BJP tasks Yogi's rival with 'placating' Brahmins in UP

BJP tasks Yogi Adityanath's rival with 'placating' Brahmins in Uttar Pradesh

The rivalry between Shukla and Adityanath is more than two decades old and is said to have begun in Gorakhpur

UP CM Adityanath. Credit: PTI Photo

The BJP has tasked Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's rival within the party with the task of 'placating' the electorally influential Brahmin community ahead of the forthcoming Assembly polls in the state.

Senior BJP leader and MP Shiv Pratap Shukla, who also hails from Gorakhpur, Adityanath's home town, is head of the 16-member committee formed to 'douse' the perceived anger among the community and bring them back into the party fold.

The rivalry between Shukla and Adityanath is more than two decades old and its genesis is said to be attempts to control the local politics in Gorakhpur.

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In fact, such was their rivalry that Adityanath had his own candidate contest from the Gorakhpur Sadar seat in 2002 Assembly polls in the state against Shukla, who was the official BJP nominee at the time. Adityanath backed the Hindu Mahasabha candidate Radhamohan Das Agarwal, who defeated Shukla in the poll.

After remaining in political oblivion for almost a decade, Shukla, who was considered to be close to prime minister Narendra Modi, was nominated to Rajya Sabha and later made a minister in the first NDA government at the Centre.

Although there were many Brahmin leaders in the state, who were ready to shoulder the responsibility of placating the community, the party choosing Shukla, a known rival of Adityanath, left many state saffron party leaders surprised.

A section of the state BJP leaders here felt that Shukla's selection was intended to give the message to Adityanath that the latter would not be allowed to dictate terms of leadership.

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Adityanath had, in the run up to the Assembly polls, put his foot down when the central leadership of the party tried to get Modi's trusted former bureaucrat A K Sharma as the deputy chief minister of UP, fearing that he could emerge as a parallel power centre in the state.

Shukla, who was considered to be a well known Brahmin face of the party in the state, has suggested declaring public holiday on Parashuram Jayanti, installing his statues in different parts of the state and rechristening Shahjahanpur as 'Prashurampur' among other things to soothe the ruffled feathers of the Brahmins.

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