Former aide hits out at Adityanath; claims Lok Sabha nomination was cancelled at CM's behest

18 May 2019
Courtesy Kamlesh Kashyap
Courtesy Kamlesh Kashyap

On the morning of 29 April, Sunil Singh tried to file his nomination for the upcoming Lok Sabha election to the Gorakhpur constituency in Uttar Pradesh. He was contesting as a candidate of the Hindusthan Nirman Dal, which was launched in February this year by Pravin Togadia, the former Hindu Vishwa Parishad leader. The next day, K Vijayendra Pandian, the district magistrate and returning officer of Gorakhpur, ordered the cancellation of Singh’s nomination on technical grounds. Singh said this was done at the behest of Adityanath, the Uttar Pradesh chief minister from the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Singh was formerly one of Adityanath’s most trusted lieutenants and had served as the state president of the Hindu Yuva Vahini—a Hindu youth militia that Adityanath had founded in 2002. He worked with Adityanath from 1988 till 2017, when they had a falling out after Adityanath refused to give BJP tickets to HYV members for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections held that year. “The chief minister was scared that I would cut into their Hindu vote bank and that’s why he got my nomination cancelled through the returning officer,” he told me.

Togadia and Singh both used to be allies of the Sangh Parivar, but have been at odds with its leaders for a couple of years. Togadia has accused the prime minister Narendra Modi of not working towards the cause of Hindutva and “appeasing” the Muslim community, and Singh agreed to become an approver in a criminal case against Adityanath. Had Singh been allowed to contest the elections, he would have had to fight Ram Bual Nishad, the candidate fielded by the coalition of opposition parties in the state, comprising the Samajwadi Party, the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal and Ravi Kishan Shukla, a popular Bhojpuri actor and singer, from the BJP. Singh believed that his nomination was rejected because Adityanath felt “threatened” by him as “I know all the tricks that helped him get elected and I can use those same tricks against him.”

Tushar Dhara is a reporting fellow with The Caravan. He has previously worked with Bloomberg News, Indian Express and Firstpost and as a mazdoor with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan in Rajasthan.

Keywords: Elections 2019 Gorakhpur Uttar Pradesh Adityanath Pravin Togadia Hindu Yuva Vahini Bharatiya Janata Party