The Opposition Parties in Uttar Pradesh have failed to pose any united challenge in the way of the Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to become the member of the state legislature through backdoor route and as no other person was fielded in the fray. Yogi and his team was declared elected unopposed. His deputies Keshav Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, cabinet minister Swatantra Dev Singh and state minister Mohsin Raza were also declared elected unopposed to UP Legislative Council. Despite many BJP MLAs offered to quit their seats for Yogi but BJP preferred not to go to public at this juncture.
Constitutionally, Yogi and Maurya will have to vacate their Lok Sabha seats ‚ÄĒ Gorakhpur and Phulpur, respectively by September 22 to continue on the posts. In view of the elections of President and Vice-President of India, strategically, they had not resigned earlier as they voted for BJP nominees. The by-elections for the two seats will be held within next six months.
The Opposition parties are planning to pose a united challenge to BJP in these forthcoming by-elections as it could be direct public test for measuring under currents for the next 2019 general elections.
Both the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party have yet to create cordial atmosphere to initiate mutual dialogue process for fielding a joint candidate for Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha constituencies, which have been considered as most prestigious political need for their political survival to check upsurge of BJP. Speculations in political circles about BSP chief Mayawati becoming a joint candidate of opposition parties from Phulpur seat of Allahabad are taking rounds ever since she resigned from Rajya Sabha amid protest over her allegations of oppression of dissenting voices from Dalit classes even on the floor of the Upper House of the parliament. Political observers feel that was a shrewd political move of Mayawati as her term was going to be completed on 2nd April, 2018 and in present scenario there was no chance for her to be repeated to Rajya Sabha.
The Phulpur parliamentary seat entails the legacy of Pundit Jawahar Lal Nehru as he had represented it twice in the Lok Sabha. ‚ÄúNow when his ideology and values are under severe threats from the saffron forces in power, opposition parties and congress party seem to be determined to defeat them at least on his heartland that nurtured the true values of independence, democracy and nationalism during freedom movement,‚ÄĚ observed veteran congress leader and former MP Ram Nihor Rakesh. ‚ÄúPundit Nehru served this constituency during his tenure in second and third general elections as the area was a strong fort during freedom movement. Unfortunately some opposition leaders preferred glorification of many unscrupulous elements having shady criminal background including jailed Mafia Don Atiq Ahmed from this prestigious seat who had won in 14th Lok Sabha,‚ÄĚ he lamented. Pleading strong need of opposition unity to combat anti-farmers and anti-soldiers policies (Kisan aur Jawan virodhi nitiyon) of BJP rule, ‚ÄúIf opposition parties will fail to understand the real sentiments of the people and fail to listen peoples call to unite, then people may unite themselves to field best candidate among itself against BJP nominees,‚ÄĚ he observed.
The BSP boss has in the past stayed away from contesting by-polls. Now, she is facing one of the toughest test of her political career ‚ÄĒ BSP‚Äôs humiliating performance in 2014 Lok Sabha and 2017 UP elections and resultant defections of her trusted lieutenants to BJP has further weakened her to push at the lowest ebb of political graph. Once her trusted lieutenants‚Äô barbed charges of corruption against her while snapping ties with the party had further maligned her public image. Feeling marginalised in terms of prominence, she ultimately resigned from Rajya Sabha in July this year in protest against not being allowed to speak on Dalit atrocities.
Having left the Rajya Sabha Mayawati has been advocating for opposition unity but everyone was surprised when she conspicuously skipped RJD chief Lalu Yadav‚Äôs ‚ÄúBJP Bhagao Desh Bachao‚ÄĚ rally held in the historic Gandhi Maidan of Patna on 27th August, 2017 from where Lok Nayak Jayaprakash Narayan had launched people‚Äôs movement of ‚Äútotal revolution‚ÄĚ against atrocities of Emergency era during Indira Gandhi regime. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav along with other opposition parties had attended the rally. Mayawati had later said that she would not share a platform with any opposition leader until a seat sharing arrangement was finalised with mutual understanding among them.
The Gorakhpur parliamentary seat is very prestigious for BJP as since 1998 elections it has been continuously in possession of present chief minister Yogi Aditya Nath, who is the present Mahant (chief priest) of famous Gorakhnath Mutt temple of Gorakhpur, Uttar Pradesh. He was appointed Mahant on 14 September 2014. He also heads the 15-year-old Hindu Yuva Vahini (HYV), an infamous moral policing group like Bajrang Dal-style reservists for opposing Valentine Day celebrations and new trend of western fashion cloths. His Hindu outfit is particularly effective in the eastern belt of the state including Maharajganj, Basti, Deoria, Kushinagar, Sant Kabir Nagar and Siddharthnagar. The activists of HYV outfit have been known to convert minor incidents into communal conflagrations and started converting Muslim to Hindu faith by allowing ‚ÄúGhar Wapsi‚ÄĚ after showering ‚ÄúGanga Jal‚ÄĚ (Ganges Water) on them and performing Hindu rituals.
Gorakhpur has been unchallenging parliamentary seat for Yogi Aditya Nath but unprecedented rise of his stature in the party and the state‚Äôs polity has been giving sleepless nights to his detractors in the party. The Prime Minister Narendra Modi has perhaps tried to strike a balance by inducting his bete noire Shiv Pratap Shukla in the recent expansion of his ministry, who had been his most vocal critic in the party. In such circumstances it would be interesting to watch how opposition parties play their cards in this constituency. This constituency had been represented by congress stalwarts like Madan Pandey, Narsingh Narain Pandey Dashrath Prasad Dwivedi and others and had effect of Brahmin domination was imminent in the area. Rise of Yogi Aditya Nath has marginalised their influence. Just after assuming power in the state the police raided the premises of a prominent Brahmin leader and former minister in the BSP rule Hari Shankar Tiwari who commands tremendous clout and respect in his community in the entire eastern belt and his son Vinay Shankar Tiwari won election as BSP candidate despite the storm of BJP in the last elections.
The constituency of Yogi Aditya Nath has also been in national light in wake of innumerous deaths of children in BRD Medical College of Gorakhpur due to lack of supply of liquid oxygen and opposition leaders including Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav personally visited there and met the family members of victims to console them. Chief Minister Yogi himself visited to take stock of preparations to meet the challenges of the deadly disease- encephalitis but he was misled by the hospital authorities, as his government claimed. The role of his machinery has definitely harmed the popular image of Yogi Aditya Nath that may affect the confidence of the area for BJP. Politically, the fallout of two proposed by-elections could indicate the future picture of the BJP prospects for upcoming 2019 general elections as these elections could become testing ground for the performance of Modi led BJP rule.