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Yogi Adityanath to Contest from 'Super Safe' Gorakhpur, But There's More to This

BJP hasn't lost the seat since 1989, except 2002, when Adityanath backed a Hindu Mahasabha candidate.

Updated
<div class="paragraphs"><p>Yogi Adityanath is leading the UP chief ministerial race, followed by Akhilesh and Mayawati.</p></div>
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The Bharatiya Janata Party announced its first list of candidates on Saturday, 15 January, and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath will be contesting from the Gorakhpur Urban seat.

This puts an end to speculation on whether Adityanath will contest or not and also the rumour that he will be contesting from Ayodhya.

So, why did Adityanath choose Gorakhpur, besides the fact that it's his home seat as the head of the Gorakhnath Math?

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SAFEST POSSIBLE SEAT

Gorakhpur Urban or Gorakhpur Sadar is among the safest possible seats for the BJP in general and Adityanath in particular.

There are few seats that the BJP has dominated so comprehensively as this one.

The BJP hasn't lost the seat since 1989, except on one occasion.

The only defeat came in 2002 at the hands of the Akhil Bharatiya Hindu Mahasabha but that too isn't entirely a defeat as the Mahasabha candidate, Dr Radha Mohan Das Agrawal, was backed by Adityanath against the official BJP nominee Shiv Pratap Shukla. Adityanath was then MP from Gorakhpur.

Dr Agrawal joined the BJP during that term itself.

So, the only defeat BJP suffered in Gorakhpur was orchestrated by Adityanath, which would give an idea of the kind of clout he wields in the region.

In 2017, the BJP won the seat by 60,730 votes or 28 percentage points, a significant margin.

Even earlier, the BJP

EFFORT TO CHANGE EQUATIONS IN EAST UP

Adityanath had the option of not contesting as a CM in UP can come through the Legislative Council route as well. Akhilesh Yadav and Mayawati, the CM candidates of SP and BSP, are also not contesting. So, it is significant that Adityanath has been fielded.

BJP's calculation is that Adityanath's presence in Gorakhpur's electoral arena could give it a push in eastern UP. This is a region where it is facing a tough challenge from the SP.

It is also a region where communal polarisation is lesser compared to West UP and caste divisions are more pronounced.

In 2017, BJP's margins in East UP were by and large smaller than the West. Therefore, the party is more vulnerable to losing a lot of seats just through small swings against it or in SP's favour.

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WHY NOT AYODHYA?

There are different explanations for this.

The first is that Ayodhya was never in consideration and that this was just a rumour created by a section of the media. Some say it was sparked by people close to the CM just to test the waters.

The second is that keeping Adityanath in Gorakhpur and not giving him the symbolic honour of representing the seat where the Ram Mandir is being constructed, was the BJP high command's call.

Adityanath has been pitching himself as 'the CM who is overseeing the construction of the Ram Mandir in Ayodhya.'

Now, the Ram Mandir is also seen as a key part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'legacy'.

Had Adityanath contested from Ayodhya and gone on to win a second term as CM, his identification with Ayodhya and the Ram Mandir would have been as close as PM Modi's with Varanasi and the Kashi Vishwanath temple.

Whether it was this reason or the political calculations of East UP that placed Adityanath in East UP is not clear.

CAN HE LOSE?

Highly unlikely, though a lot would depend on who the SP and other Opposition parties field from that seat.

There's speculation that sitting MLA, Dr Radha Mohan Das Agrawal, a respected doctor locally, could quit the BJP to join SP, especially given his earlier falling out with Adityanath. But even if that happens, it would be very difficult to challenge Adityanath in the seat.

What could happen, however, is that it could give the SP ammunition to target Adityanath by alleging that he chose a 'super safe' seat because he was afraid of losing from anywhere else.

It would also give the Opposition a chance to revive public memory on specific failures, like the BRD Medical College oxygen deaths in Gorakhpur.

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

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