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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

Gorakhpur: Where Yogi Adityanath is omnipresent, but BJP MP Ravi Kishan is ‘laapata’

'The AIIMS, roads and Ramgarh Taal were constructed by Yogiji. Kishan did only one thing: he has been telling voters that his real name is Ravindra Kishan Shukla and he is a Brahmin. He doesn’t seek votes on the basis of his work. He only repeats what Yogi and Modi say', a flower seller said

Piyush Srivastava Gorakhpur Published 28.05.24, 09:36 AM
Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the mahanth of the Gorakhpur Math, addresses a public meeting for sitting MP Ravi Kishan.

Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath, the mahanth of the Gorakhpur Math, addresses a public meeting for sitting MP Ravi Kishan. PTI

This is perhaps the only seat in India where the Yogi wave is taller than Modi’s.

Gorakhpur, another pilgrim city of Uttar Pradesh, is steeped in history and culture. Known for its religious significance as the home of the Gorakhnath Math, it holds political importance, being the former constituency of chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

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“We don’t want to know who is Narendra Modi or (ac­tor and sitting MP) Ravi Kishan. We know Gorakhnath Math and its mahanth Yogi Adityanath,” said Rachna Arya, a schoolteacher in Chauri Chaura, when asked whom she would vote for.

“My family and I never think of voting for any other person. Modi’s promises are empty and hollow. Kishan is more interested in acting and advertisements. Yogiji is available at Gorakhnath temple at least twice a month. He listens to our complaints and acts promptly. Missing out on his leadership would be a loss for us. We vote where he asks us to,” she said.

Most people in Gorakhpur said Kishan remains laapata from his constituency as he is “more interested in acting than working for the people”.

Kishan’s last outing as a corrupt cop with a moment of redemption in Laapata Ladies has been widely praised.

“We are with the local INDIA-bloc nominee. Kishan is from Mumbai and visits the constituency only when a big BJP leader is here. He comes from Mumbai for a few hours and then leaves. Yahan se laapata hi rehtein hain (mostly remains missing from Gorakhpur),” said Vijay Srivastava, the Aam Aadmi Party president of Gorakhpur Mahanagar.

Ashutosh Dwivedi, a flower seller, agreed that Kishan piggybacks veterans to make himself heard.

“The AIIMS, roads and Ramgarh Taal (a picnic spot) were constructed by Yogiji. Kishan did only one thing: he has been telling voters that his real name is Ravindra Kishan Shukla and he is a Brahmin. He doesn’t seek votes on the basis of his work. He only repeats what Yogi and Modi say. He reminds the voters about the (Pradhan Mantri) Ujjwala Yojana and foodgrain schemes under which free LPG connection and cereals are provided to the poor,” said Dwivedi. “The voters know Shukla is good for nothing.”

He said Yogi manages the constituency from his temple.

“People visit the CM during janata darbar held twice or thrice a month. Adityanath personally receives their applications and on the spot directs officers for compliance. Kishan on the other hand is busy finding better movies. Earlier, he used to get frivolous roles but now his BJP connection is getting him good films. As an MP, he is a dud,” added Dwivedi.

The actor had contested the 2014 elections from his hometown Jaunpur on a Congress ticket. With just 42,759 votes, he forfeited his deposit. He then joined the BJP and came to Gorakhpur, where “Adityanath maharaj” took him under his fold.

Kajal Nishad, the Samajwadi Party (INDIA­ bloc) candidate, said: “Kishan has played daughter-in-law and woman in some movies but I am the real daughter-in-law and woman here. People should decide whether they want the fake or the real one to represent them.

“This election fight is between people and the ruling dispensation, which has crossed all limits of lying. The actor didn’t do justice to his own wife and daughter, how will he fight for other women?” she asked.

A woman held a press conference in Lucknow in April this year where she claimed that she was the second wife of Kishan and they have a daughter. “We got married in 1996 in Mumbai in the presence of family friends. I have proof to support my claim, including the DNA report of my daughter, which could be matched with him,” she had alleged.

When reporters had asked the actor about the controversy, he said: “My wife (Priti Shukla) has already filed a case against the woman’s rubbish allegations.”

Nishad alleged that Kishan hates the smell of sweat of the poor. “He has spent the entire MP LAD (local area development) money but nothing is visible in Gorakhpur. He must explain what he did with the funds?” she asked.

Gorakhpur is among the few Lok Sabha seats where the RSS has activated its units. As the turnout at the polling booths was less in the first four phases compared to 2019, the Vishwa Hindu Parishad formed teams to visit the villages and encourage people to cast their votes. A reduced vote percentage is sometimes a reflection of people’s disinterest in supporting the ruling party though that’s not always the case.

Amit Kamal Das, the mahanth of a local temple and a VHP member, said: “Elections are a medium for people to express themselves. They must cast their votes.”

The Gorakhnath temple has an influence on the nine Lok Sabha seats of the twin Gorakhpur-Basti divisions and there are several turncoats in the region who are with the BJP this election.

RPN Singh of Kushinagar was with the Congress in 2019 but now he is BJP’s Rajya Sabha member and campaigning for party nominee Vijay Kumar Dubey. Singh was elected Congress MP from there in 2009 but lost to the BJP in 2014. Nathuni Prasad Kushwaha, who was Samajwadi Party nominee from there in 2019, is now with the BJP and campaigning for Dubey. Raj Kishore Singh was a Congress candidate from Basti in 2019 but is now campaigning for BJP’s Harish Dwivedi. Chandresh Upadhyaya, a Congress candidate from Domariyaganj in 2019, is seeking votes for sitting MP Jagdambika Pal.

Gorakhpur votes on June 1

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