NEW DELHI/LUCKNOW: Fast emerging as ace campaigner of the BJP, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath appears pinned down on his home turf after the Samajwadi Party ended three decades of saffron domination in Gorakhpur.
Faced with the task to ensure victory of the “high command’s choice Upendra Dutt Shukla, who ironically is seen as his rival”, the chief minister is seen within the party as having failed to rally his supporters.
“Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat has been with the head of the Mutt since 1989. As early as 1967, the seat was wrested by the Mutt head Mahant Digvijay Nath. It was indeed a gamble to field a nominee who had been at odds with the Mutt and the chief minister,” said a top-ranking BJP leader.
It has been reliably learnt that the BJP high command didn’t leave the choice of candidate for Gorakhpur to Adityanath.
“Maharaj ji (Adityanath) had said that he has no specific choice and he would accept any candidate decided by the party. But the BJP high command fielded a Brahmin nominee in a constituency where the Thakur-dominated Mutt holds unprecedented influence,” said the BJP leader, who added that a much below par voter turnout (43 per cent) made it evident that the followers of the chief minister stayed away from campaigning.
Within the BJP, the leaders shared the views that the Gorakhpur bypoll verdict would dent the image of Adityanath as an ace campaigner who could turn the scales in favour of the party.
“Adityanath was assigned category B and C (difficult seats to win) in Gujarat Assembly elections to campaign, which in the end proved to have tilted the scale in favour of the BJP in a close contest in the state. He was also a top campaigner in Tripura, besides being in big demand in Karnataka. But the Gorakhpur bypoll verdict may send out the message that he is a long way away from becoming a campaigner in the league of Prime Minister Narendra Modi,” said another top BJP leader.
That Union Minister for Home Affairs Rajnath Singh didn’t campaign in the constituency despite the BSP supremo Mayawati throwing her weight behind the Samajwadi Party nominee is also being talked about in the BJP.
“That the Opposition unitedly came out in full force in both Gorakhpur and Phulpur bypolls was evident and yet Rajnath Singh wasn’t asked to campaign despite being the tallest state leader remains a mystery,” added the BJP leader.
Swami Chinmayananda, who had been a disciple of Mahant Avaidyanath (Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur from 1989 to 1998), was seen in the reckoning for nomination from the constituency.
Incidentally, the BJP losing from both the Lok Sabha constituencies of the chief minister and deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya (Phulpur) respectively is being seen as too “rude shock for the BJP chief Amit Shah to brush aside the verdict easily”.
Interacting with media after the announcement of the results, CM Yogi called it a lesson for his party. “I accept this as people’s mandate though it is unexpected and contrary to what we hoped,” said the CM adding that the party tried really hard.
There would be a threadbare analysis of the shortcomings, the CM claimed. Over by polls being pegged as a referendum on the performance of the BJP government, and that the outcome would impact 2019 elections, he said that bypolls were fought on local issues and the general elections are contested on national issues.
He attributed the defeat to party’s overconfidence and a bit of complacency too.
“We failed to fully read this alliance which was struck in the middle of the elections,” he accepted and claimed that people of this state would be able to see through this unholy alliance in the next election.