In a surprise move, the Bharatiya Janata Party on Monday announced Bhojpuri film star Ravi Kishan as its Lok Sabha candidate from Gorakhpur, the bastion of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, and dropped its Sant Kabir Nagar MP Sharad Tripathi, who had left his party red-faced by beating an MLA with shoes.
In its list of seven more candidates, the BJP shifted sitting Gorakhpur MP Praveen Nishad, who had won as the joint Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party candidate in bypoll in 2018 but joined the saffron party recently, to Sant Kabir Nagar and fielded Tripathi's father Ramapati Ram Tripathi from Deoria.
Sharad Tripathi kicked-up a row last month after he beat BJP MLA Rakesh Baghel with shoes during an official meeting in the state.
The decision to bring Ramapati Ram Tripathi, a former Uttar Pradesh BJP president, out of political hibernation into electoral field, underscores the party's thrust to keep its vote bank of Brahmins in good humour after it decided against renominating incumbent Deoria MP Kalraj Mishra, who is above 75 years of age.
The BJP has put an age bar of 75 years for its candidates in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls.
Last year, Nishad had defeated BJP's Upendra Shukla in Gorakhpur bypoll in a surprise win, after Adityanath, who had represented the Lok Sabha seat five times since 1998, became the chief minister.
However, Nishad joined the BJP earlier this month after the Samajwadi Party turned down his demand to contest as a candidate of Nishad Party, headed by his father Sanjay Nishad.
His party had also ended its alliance with the SP-BSP and joined hands with the BJP.
The candidature of Ravi Kishan, a political lightweight, is seen by political watchers as Adityanath's move to keep his bastion firmly under his watch as the actor is unlikely to cultivate any independent clout of his own in the constituency, which has been associated for decades with Gorakhnath Math headed currently by the chief minister.
With the list of candidates releases by the party Monday, the BJP has so far announced candidates for 420 Lok Sabha seats for the seven-phase elections, ending on May 19.
The saffron party has fielded UP cooperative minister Mukut Bihari from Ambedkar Nagar and given ticket to Sangam Lal Gupta from Pratapgarh, the parliamentary constituency that was won by BJP ally Apna Dal in 2014.
The party has fielded KP Singh from Jaunpur and Ramesh Bind from Bhadohi.