Lucknow : The Bharatiya Janata Party on Thursday named Gorakhpur MP Yogi Adityanath, a hawkish face of the party, as its star campaigner in Uttar Pradesh bypolls scheduled for September 13.
Adityanath is a Hindutva rabble-rouser who courted controversy recently after video footage showed him making an incendiary speech on ‘Love Jihad’. In the video he is seen declaring that for “every Hindu converted, 100 Muslim girls will be converted in retaliation.”
Of the 11 seats in UP where by-elections will be held, four are in western UP, which was a flashpoint for riots in September last year. Political rivals see in Adityanath’s appointment a change in the BJP’s strategy in the state and a concerted attempt to polarise voters ahead of the by-elections.
The stakes for the BJP are high as 10 of these 11 seats have been vacated by its leaders who have been elected MPs while one is being vacated by its ally Apna Dal.
Controversial BJP MLA Suresh Rana, too, has been asked to campaign for the party in Bijnor constituency. The other campaigners for the BJP will be its UP chief Laxmikant Bajpai and Union minister Kalraj Mishra.
The by-election will also be held for the Maipuri Lok Sabha seat, which has been vacated by Mulayam Singh Yadav.