With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) facing an exodus of leaders right before the Uttar Pradesh (UP) Assembly elections, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath is being considered to contest from the Ayodhya seat, as per sources cited by reports.
Adityanath has served as a five-time Lok Sabha MP from Gorakhpur so far, but with the exit of OBC leaders from Eastern UP, he may be fielded from Ayodhya, where the construction of the Ram Mandir, one of the biggest victories for the saffron party, has begun.
Elections will be held to the 403-member Assembly in seven phases from 10 February to 7 March. Results of the same will be announced on 10 March.
Currently, the Ayodhya seat is represented by BJP's Ved Prakash Gupta in the Assembly.
‘Combination of Hindutva and Development'
A party functionary was quoted as saying, “While Gorakhpur, which is the seat of the Gorakhnath Math (of which the Yogi is the head) is identified with the chief minister, the religious significance of Ayodhya is far greater. If he contests from there, it will be a clear and strong message that the party and the chief minister are not compromising on their core ideological beliefs for political purposes,” Hindustan Times reported.
The possibility of Adityanath contesting from Ayodhya came up during a meeting of the BJP’s Core Committee on the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls on Tuesday, where Union Home Minister Amit Shah had conducted a sector-wise review and had also taken feedback from the regional in-charges.
As per the BJP’s internal assessment, it would win at least 270 seats, and possibly go up to 290 in the 403-member House, if the party is able to project a combination of Hindutva and development, with Adityanath fighting from the Ram Janmabhoomi, The Indian Express reported citing sources.
While the BJP had won 325 seats in 2017, in the aftermath of the farmers protests and the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the party may be considering “a larger Hindu consolidation” as a way to power.
The proposal came a day after Yogi Adityanath stirred another controversy by saying that this election was a contest between the 80 percent and 20 percent population of Uttar Pradesh.
Several people on social media including politicians from Opposition parties called out the CM's remark as "communal" and an attempt to "polarise" Uttar Pradesh ahead of the elections, since nearly 80 percent of UP’s population is Hindus, while the other 20 percent includes minority communities.
Sources cited by NDTV have added that Prime Minister Narendra Modi will sign off on the proposal.
(With inputs from Hindustan Times, The Indian Express, and NDTV.)