BJP leader Smriti Irani may have stolen the show with her astounding victory over Congress President Rahul Gandhi in Uttar Pradesh's Amethi, but there is one more Lok Sabha seat in the state where a BJP candidate has pulled in a huge cache of votes, also leading to redemption for state chief minister Yogi Adityanath.
In Gorakhpur, Bhojpuri superstar Ravi Kishan, a last minute choice for the BJP on the seat, has polled over 7 lakh votes, the highest ever for any candidate on the seat since 1952 when the first Lok Sabha election was held in the constituency. Mr Kishan's winning margin on the seat is a little over 3 lakh votes over his closest rival, a Samajwadi Party candidate, who polled about 3 lakh 15 thousand votes. Mr Kishan managed to get about 60 per cent of the votes.
The victory for Mr Kishan is a remarkable turnaround for the party and for Mr Adityanath, who had lost the seat to the mahagathbandhan or grand alliance in March last year. Their success in Gorakhpur, a seat held by UP Chief Minister Adityanath for two decades, had cemented the Akhilesh Yadav-Mayawati alliance and also raised many questions on the effectiveness of Chief Minister Adityanath.
This election, Yogi Adityanath led a series of moves, including getting 2018 winner from the seat, Praveen Nishad, to defect to the BJP . Mr Nishad, who belongs to the Nishad Party and claims support among the OBC Nishad community in eastern Uttar Pradesh, was all set to be announced as the candidate of mahagathbandhan this time around too. But, a month before polling , Mr Nishad and his party switched over to the BJP - Praveen himself was offered a ticket from the neighbouring Sant Kabir Nagar Lok Sabha, and has won the election.
The second big factor - Yogi Adityanath virtually camped in Gorakhpur for 15 days before polling, addressing a host of meetings, rallies and interactions. The Chief Minister pitched this election as a battle of prestige for the Gorakhnath temple, where he serves as chief priest. It also helped that the choice of Mr Kishan - the Bhojpuri superstar, a Brahmin by caste - was more acceptable to the chief minister. In the 2018 polls, the BJP had fielded another Brahmin candidate, Upendra Shukla, from the seat and reports had suggested the chief minister wasn't pleased at all with the choice.
"To win Gorakhpur seat was a difficult task and a big mission for me. I want to thank the entire Gorakpur people for showing their trust in me and help me won. I took the words and thinking of Yogi Adityanath in the midst of people of Gorakhpur," Mr Kishan said after his victory, acknowledging the role of the UP CM in his victory.
The film actor now plans to make a biopic on Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Bhojpuri so that the speakers of that language can know more about the leader, news agency PTI reported.