In an unexpected and interesting turn of events, Subhavati Shukla, wife of late Upendra Dutt Shukla, who was BJP’s state vice-president, quietly joined the Samajwadi Party on Thursday evening.
Sources said that she was likely to be pitted against Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur.
Subhavati Devi’s husband Upendra Dutt Shukla, a well-known Brahmin face, had lost the by-election in Gorakhpur in 2018 on the seat vacated by Yogi Adityanath. Pravin Nishad of Samajwadi Party had won the bypoll.
The buzz was that he lost because of his strained relations with Yogi Adityanath and this heightened the thakur-Brahmin tension in the area.
Shukla passed away in May 2020.
The Samajwadi Party plans to field Subhavati Devi opposite Yogi Adityanath and win the support of Brahmins.
The Gorakhpur seat, despite being a saffron party stronghold, has already made headlines after Azad Samaj Party (ASP) founder and Bhim Army chief Chandra Shekhar Azad was finalised to contest against incumbent Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
While the election on this seat is not likely to spring any surprises, the choice of candidate could increase the Thakur-Brahmin divide that has been the hallmark of Purvanchal politics.
Interestingly, it is said that Vinay Tiwari, son of Hari Shankar Tiwari was instrumental in convincing Subhavati Devi to join SP and contest against Yogi Adityanath. The rivalry between Yogi Adityanath and the Tiwari family is well known in the region.
The Gorakhpur seat will vote in the sixth phase on March 3.
Gorakhpur is the political capital of Purvanchal which accounts for 160 Assembly seats.
In 2017, the BJP won 115 out of those 160 seats, the Samajwadi Party 17, the Bahujan Samaj Party 14 and the Congress two and other parties/ independents 12.