It is actually no battle at all but is still being termed as the ‘mother of all battles’ in Uttar Pradesh elections.
UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, who is contesting his first Assembly elections from Gorakhpur, is facing first timers as his opponents in the electoral arena.
Yogi Adityanath is the head of the Gorakhnath temple, the high seat of the Nath monastic sect founded by Matsyendranath in the 10th century. The temple is a politically influential shrine.
The BJP matters less than the candidate in this constituency and the vote if for Yogi Adityanath, known as ‘Maharaj’ in local parlance.
Dwarika Tewari, the manager of the temple, says: “There is nothing I need to say as of now since it is election time. Wait till polling over. Yahan Maharaj ke siva koi nahin hai.”
Most voters in Gorakhpur are not even willing to think of an option or choice in elections.
“Jab Maharaj hain, to aur koi nahin,” says Ravindra Thakur, a local trader.
Yogi Adityanath, who represented Gorakhpur five times in Lok Sabha since 1998, has made sure that his constituency gets all attention in his regime as chief minister.
“Maharaj has turned Gorakhpur into Sefai (the native village of the Yadav clan). What more do we want?” says Parshuram Agarwal, a retired government employee.
Prominent among others in the fray is Subhawati Shukla who is the SP candidate.
Subhawati’s husband, late Upendra Dutt Shukla, was vice president of BJP and his rivalry with Yogi Adityanath is well known in the local circles.
When Shukla died in 2020, Yogi did not visit his home and this has upset his family.
Subhawati is using ‘Brahmin pride and identity’ in her campaign and hopes to cash in on the Brahmin -Thakur rivalry in the region.
Chandra Shekhar, head of Bhim Army and Azad Samaj Party, is another candidate in the fray.
Chandra Shekhar is focussing on Dalit atrocities in the BJP regime and is using his campaign to consolidate Dalits.
Political analysts are of opinion that Chandra Shekhar is shrewdly using the elections to find a foothold in Purvanchal politics and become known as a Dalit leader in the country.
The BSP has fielded Khwaja Shamsuddin who hopes to get Muslim votes while the Congress candidate is Chetna Pandey.
Despite being pitted against first timers, Yogi Adityanath is not taking his elections lightly. He has been regularly visiting his constituency, interacting with party workers and addressing meetings. He took out a road show on Monday evening that displayed his popularity in Gorakhpur.