Despite Adityanath's assurance, BJP's eastern UP troubles mount
The Hindu Yuva Vahini, which has added to the BJP's woes by threatening to field 64 candidates in eastern Uttar Pradesh against the party, has made it clear it will not reconsider its decision even after founder, Yogi Adityanath, has distanced himself from it on Saturday. Not unless the BJP announces the Yogi as its Chief Ministerial candidate in UP, where elections will be held in seven phases from February 11.
On Saturday morning, Yogi Adityanath, a BJP Member of Parliament who also serves as the head priest of the influential Gorakhnath Temple in Gorakhpur, was dismissive about the announcement of the Hindu Yuva Vahini, which he launched in 2001. It is a cultural organisation, the 44-year-old lawmaker said and promised: "It does not have a mandate to contest elections and if any such announcement has been made I will take action."
The Hindu Yuva Vahini, the five-time MP asserted: "Will support the BJP," alleging that rivals are fielding "fake candidates." Yogi Adityanath, named star campaigner by the party, is attending a function in Lucknow on Saturday to release the BJP's manifesto for UP. In Gorakhpur, Hindu Yuva Vahini chief Sunil Singh's tone changed from gruff to polite when he learned that a journalist from Lucknow was on the phone.
"Sab kaala jaadu hai (It's all black magic)," he said, adding: "We are fighting for Yogiji. Look at his stature. He is a five time MP. Yet he wasn't made a Cabinet minister after the BJP victory in the Lok Sabha polls of 2014... He should have been the party's CM candidate."
On Friday, Singh announced candidates for six Assembly seats in Gorakhpur, saying they would take on the BJP's candidates. Within a few days, the organisation is expected to announce the names of a dozen more candidates for Gorakhpur and Basti, both in eastern UP, seen as Yogi Adityanath's stronghold in the BJP.
A t rallies held by the party in eastern UP, including two big rallies addressed by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Hindu Yuva Vahini members have staged protests carrying posters and placards that demand that Yogi Adityanath to be named as the BJP's Chief Ministerial candidate.
The BJP leadership in UP has not reacted so far to these developments. The party has not named a presumptive Chief Minister for the state. It is facing protests from party cadre also for giving ticket to many people who have just joined the BJP from other parties — being called "outsiders" and "turncoats" — and there is also dissatisfaction over a number of sons and daughters of politicians being named as candidates despite PM Modi's orders that no family members of BJP leaders must contest elections.