New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will contest next month’s Assembly election from the Gorakhpur (Urban) seat, the Bharatiya Janata Party said on Saturday, as it released its first list of candidates. Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya, will contest the Sirathu seat in Prayagraj district.
The first list of 107 candidates is for the constituencies that are going to polls on the first and second phase between February 10 and March 3. The party has denied tickets to 21 sitting MLAs. The announcement has put to rest speculation that the CM may be contesting from Ayodhya, the epicentre of Hindutva politics.
The party has given tickets to 44 OBC,19 SC candidates and 10 women. The list also includes 20 Thakurs, 11 Brahmins and 9 Baishya candidates.
A senior BJP leader said that unlike earlier assessment the party has not axed many sitting MLAs but denied tickets to 21 in first list as it would create more damage and dent voter’s perception. He added that speculation was rife that over 100 sitting MLAs may be axed.
This will be the first assembly election for Adityanath — five-time Member of Parliament — who did not contest the assembly election in 2017 and had entered the House through the Legislative Council.
Why Gorakhpur over Ayodhya
“I had a discussion with Yogi ji about his seat preference. He told me that he was ready to contest from any of the 403 seat. The party’s Central Election Committee decided to field him from Gorakhpur,” said Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan who is BJP’s in charge of the UP elections.
Pradhan also hinted about the possibility of the party fielding a backward community candidate on the general seat to send a message of commitment of BJP towards the community. “
In the first phase, 58 seats in western UP will go to polls while the second phase to be held in the Braj region will see voting in 55 constituencies. The BJP brass’ decision to field its three top state leaders is seen as a move to galvanise the party’s cadre.
Speaking to Print, a senior BJP leader said, “Prime Minister Narendra Modi is our biggest icon and brand of Hindutva politics and he represents Varanasi in Lok Sabha, fielding the Chief Minister from Ayodhya would have sent a wrong signal among the cadre. They may see it as an elevation for the Chief Minister ahead of Prime Minister Modi.”
Another BJP leader told The Print, “It was felt Ayodhya is not a safe seat. Ayodhya has population of 70,000 Brahmins who is against Yogi, 27,000 Muslim and 40,000 belonging to the Yadav community.
Other prominent candidates who were retained includes Defence Minister Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh from Noida, Mriganka Singh from Karana, Atul Garg from Ghaziabad, Suresh Rana from Thana Bhawan, Sandeep Singh from Atruli and Baby Rani Maurya from Agra rural.
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