Actor-turned-BJP politician Ravi Kishan, BJP candidate from Gorakhpur, the citadel of Yogi Adityanath, speaks to Namita Bajpai.
You had contested 2014 elections from Jaunpur on a Congress ticket and lost. What difference do you find between both parties?
There is a massive difference. In Jaunpur, I was doing everything by myself, right from putting the banners and poster to erecting the stage, visiting village after village and making the voters aware of the Panja (hand) symbol of the Congress. The biggest shortcoming of the party was that there was no cadre. Besides, the party leaders and MLAs who wanted ticket for themselves were baying for my blood. I was then new to the world of politics...and not experienced enough to handle all that. But, the BJP is a class apart. It is so organised and disciplined. Everyone’s task is clearly cut out. There is no confusion.
Initially, you were branded as an outsider in Gorakhpur. How did you manage to get a foothold?
It was a canard spread by the opposition. I have my roots in Mamkhor, a village just 35 km from Gorakhpur city. We are the famous Shuklas of Mamkhor, believably the elite among Brahmins. This fact came as a big slap on the face of the opposition as all my cousins and relations are here, working with me.
People are sceptical whether you will be present in Gorakhpur if you win.
I am not going to run away. My wife, children are here. I have bought a house here and have set up my ‘grihasthi’ (household) here.
But merely buying a house doesn’t allay fears of an MP being elusive after winning polls?
I have met 6-7 lakh people till now. I have told them that I won’t leave my original profession for politics as it is my bread and butter, but not at the cost of people of Gorakhpur.
How big is the challenge from alliance?
People are quite aware and politically conscious now thanks to smartphone and cheap internet data. They will vote for the one who has worked for them. The Central development schemes have found traction among a large section of people in the villages. People now hardly get swayed by caste leaders.
How big is the legacy of Yogi in Gorakhpur?
I will take it forward by winning with a huge margin. People are waiting for May 19 to rectify the mistake they committed in 2018 by not coming out to vote, thinking BJP will win just like that. This time history will be created. Yogiji’s pride and honour will rise on May 19.
What is your vision for Gorakhpur?
I want to develop Gorakhpur as a hub of Bhojpuri film industry. I want to set up a huge institution here. I will also take development of Gorakhpur forward.