Gorakhpur Lok Sabha Contest: Yogi, Law & Order, Nishads, Paper Leaks, And Jobs among Key Factors – News18

As Uttar Pradesh (UP) gears up for the seventh and final phase of the 2024 Lok Sabha polls to be held on June 1, the battle for the Gorakhpur seat, which is chief minister Yogi Adityanath’s home turf and the second most high-profile constituency in the state after Varanasi, has got fiercer. In a bid to feel the poll pulse and to ascertain the effectiveness of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) slogan “Gorakhpur Ka Mission…Ravi Kishan…Ravi Kishan”, which it launched for its candidate and incumbent MP Ravi Kishan, who will take on actress Kajal Nishad from the Samajwadi Party (SP), News18 spoke to locals.

Many people said that in “Yogi’s land, it’s only Yogi magic that works” and hence, no matter the candidate, they will vote for the BJP.

A lot of locals also hailed the development work carried out during the rule of Yogi Adityanath, calling Gorakhpur the fastest developing city in UP.

“Gorakhpur’s transformation was remarkable. It was even faster than that of Varanasi. Be it the rejuvenation of Ramgarh Tal, widening of roads in Buxipur book market, starting of a new terminal at Gorakhpur airport, availability of flights to Delhi, Bengaluru, Prayagraj and other prime cities, beautification of Gorakhnath temple, construction of four lanes from airport to Circuit House, construction of the zoological garden, AIIMS, dedicated hospital for Japanese Encephalitis, etc,” said Vinod Kumar Tripathi, who hails from Diwan Bazar, Gorakhpur.

Many also lauded the law-and-order situation and the freeing of land from land sharks. “Going out during the night hours was beyond one’s imagination until 2017. Thanks to Yogi Baba for the streamlined law and order and for making us feel safe while travelling even during the night hours. It’s a big change,” said Shubhangi Rastogi, a homemaker from the Chamrauti area of Gorakhpur. She also praised CM Yogi for freeing land from the clutches of “Bhu Mafias”.

Several youths were dejected over the issues of paper leaks and unemployment. “Our future seems to be in the doldrums. There were instances when we came after appearing in the exam and a day after we got the news that the exam had been canceled. The UP government should come out with stern laws to keep a check on the paper leaks,” said Anirudh Dubey, who completed his graduation in 2021.

Some also slammed the Agnipath scheme for military recruitment.

News18 also spoke to people from the Nishad community, who are said to be a deciding factor in Gorakhpur politics. “We are with Yogi Baba. But the only thing that bothers us the most is why BJP fielded an outsider again. The BJP also has Nishad leaders here, they should have fielded any of them,” said Arjun Nishad from Kakrahiya village of Gorakhpur. Others echoed this sentiment.

Manoj Singh, a senior journalist and a political analyst who hails from Gorakhpur, said the politics in the constituency is dominated by the Goraknath Math and people from the Nishad community. Yogi Adityanath is the BJP face here and was praised by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his recent rallies in eastern UP. “In a recent meeting carried out in Ghosi, eastern UP, the PM said the bulldozer of the Yogi government had ended Gundaraj. He also commended the Yogi administration for advancing his campaign against corruption and criminal elements. He also said the development work done in UP after Yogi Adityanath became chief minister was unparalleled since Independence,” said Singh.

He added that Yogi cut through the caste calculus of rival parties, spearheading the BJP strategy to sweep the 2019 Lok Sabha and 2022 assembly elections, winning all six parliamentary seats and 27 out of 28 assembly seats in the Gorakhpur division. “In his home turf Gorakhpur, Yogi consolidated the BJP’s hold after becoming chief minister in 2017 with the dual plank of development and welfare schemes reaching the beneficiaries,” the political analyst told News18.

Gorakhpur, a significant Lok Sabha constituency, presents a dynamic political landscape shaped by its diverse electorate. The constituency boasts a considerable OBC population, with around nine lakh voters, predominantly Nishads, followed by Yadavs and Dalits. Upper castes, including Brahmins, Thakurs, Bhumihars, and Vaishyas, constitute approximately six lakh voters.

The BJP has fielded its local MP, Bhojpuri actor Ravi Kishan, originally named Ravindra Shukla, who transitioned from the Congress after an unsuccessful 2014 run in Jaunpur. Kishan joined the BJP in 2017 and was chosen as the party’s candidate for Gorakhpur after Yogi Adityanath vacated the seat to become Uttar Pradesh’s chief minister. Kishan secured a decisive victory, defeating SP’s Rambhual Nishad by over three lakh votes.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) continues to leverage caste dynamics, consistently nominating candidates from the influential Nishad community, which comprises more than 15% of Gorakhpur’s electorate. For this election, SP has fielded Kajal Nishad under the INDIA bloc to challenge Ravi Kishan.

Gorakhpur’s political history is marked by a shift from Congress dominance in its early years as a Lok Sabha seat, starting in 1952. The Congress won six out of the first eight elections. However, from 1984 onwards, the BJP has emerged as the predominant force, winning eight of the last nine elections. This shift was significantly influenced by Mahant Avaidyanath, who served as MP from 1989 to 1998, followed by Yogi Adityanath, who won five consecutive terms before becoming chief minister in 2017.

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