Seat held by ‘ma­hants’ for 34 yrs to see a change this by­poll

Hindustan Times (Lucknow) - - Uttarpradesh - Abdul Ja­did let­ters@hin­dus­tan­ ▪

GO­RAKH­PUR: The Go­rakh­pur Lok Sabha seat, which has been held by priests of Go­rakhnath temple since 1989, is set to see a dif­fer­ent rep­re­sen­ta­tive this time when the by­polls are held for the con­stituency on March 11.

With the mutt’s cur­rent chief Yogi Adityanath mov­ing to the state af­ter he quit the seat on be­com­ing UP chief min­is­ter, op­po­si­tion par­ties are look­ing to ex­ploit the op­por­tu­nity and wrest the seat from the BJP.

Dis­trict pres­i­dent of the Sa­ma­jwadi Party, Prahlad Ya­dav said the ab­sence of the temple’s ma­hant (head pri­est) from the fray will be an ad­van­tage to us. “Yogi Adityanath drew votes by po­lar­is­ing but now he is the UP CM.” It will be the first time since 1962 that the sit­ting ma­hant of Go­rakhnath mutt will not be con­test­ing the elec­tion.

Since 1967, ma­hants of Go­rakhnath mutt have rep­re­sented the seat for a to­tal of 32 years. While ma­hant Digvi­jay­nath held the seat for three years, ma­hant Avaidyanath and Yogi Adityanath rep­re­sented Go­rakh­pur for 9 and 20 years re­spec­tively.

Adityanath held the seat for five con­sec­u­tive terms from 1998–2017. Be­fore him, his men­tor and then ma­hant of Go­rakhnath temple, Ma­hant Avaidyanath rep­re­sented the con­stituency for four terms — 1970 (In­de­pen­dent), and con­tin­u­ously from 1989 (Hindu Ma­hasabha), 1991 and 1996 (BJP). Avaidyanath’s pre­de­ces­sor Ma­hant Digvi­jay­nath, who had in­stalled Ram Lalla at the dis­puted site in Ay­o­d­hya in 1949, won once in 1967 as a Hindu Ma­hasabha can­di­date.

Ma­hant Digvi­jay­nath was the first temple head to win the seat in 1967 af­ter his failed de­but in 1962 as an in­de­pen­dent can­di­date.

Yogi Adityanath, who took over as chief pri­est of the temple af­ter the demise of his men­tor Ma­hant Avaidyanath in 2014, con­tin­ues to per­form rit­u­als even af­ter be­com­ing the state chief min­is­ter. Although the BJP has not an­nounced any names for the by­poll, it is widely be­lieved that the can­di­date will have Adityanath’s bless­ings.

Vi­nay Gau­tam, pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer of Go­rakhnath temple, said it would be odd to have some­one other than the ma­hant to con­test elec­tion on the seat.

“We don’t know whether the BJP can­di­date will be some­one as­so­ci­ated with the temple or not. But whoso­ever is an­nounced as the BJP can­di­date would be ac­cept­able to all as the name would be de­cided af­ter get­ting the nod of Adityanath,” he said.

BJP spokesper­son Satyen­dra Sinha voiced sim­i­lar views. “The BJP can­di­date will have the stamp of Yogi Adityanath and vot­ers will sup­port the can­di­date. The CM has gifted de­vel­op­ment projects to his con­stituency af­ter tak­ing over as chief min­is­ter,” he said. Ac­cord­ing to sources, the names of BJP of­fice-bearer Upen­dra Dutta Shukla and Ganesh Shankar Pandey, nephew of gang­ster-turned-politi­cian Vi­nay Shankar Ti­wari, are do­ing the rounds. Po­lit­i­cal ob­servers say ir­re­spec­tive of the can­di­date, vot­ers in Go­rakh­pur have been ex­tend­ing sup­port in the name of Go­rakhnath temple for long.


Yogi Adityanath has rep­re­sented Go­rakh­pur for 20 years.

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