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BJP banks big on Bhojpuri stars to draw in votes in eastern UP, West Bengal; Ravi Kishan, Nirahua, Manoj Tiwari given party tickets

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is banking on the popularity of Bhojpuri film industry's biggest stars to see it through a clutch of Lok Sabha seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal. The saffron party is tapping film stars such as Ravi Kishan, singer-actor Dinesh Lal Yadav alias 'Nirahua' and Pawan Singh and they are being fielded from seats in eastern Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which have Bhojpuri voters.

The BJP already has Manoj Tiwari, a well-known Bhojpuri actor-cum-singer, in its fold. Tiwari, who joined the BJP in 2013, currently heads the party's Delhi unit. "All the big stars of the Bhojpuri film industry like Manoj Tiwari, Ravi Kishan, Nirahua, Pawan Singh are with the BJP and they will be unstoppable in the elections," Mumbai BJP general secretary Amarjeet Mishra told PTI.

Kishan, who joined the party in 2017, had already started campaigning in Jaunpur and maintained that he has been involved in taking up social causes for quite some time. "Everyone knows me and my work, especially the people of eastern Uttar Pradesh. I expressed my willingness to contest the election and I am thankful to Modiji, Amit Shahji and Yogiji who decided to give me a chance to serve the people of eastern Uttar Pradesh," Kishan told PTI.

He has been fielded from the crucial Gorakhpur seat that was earlier Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath's stronghold before he conceded in 2018 to the alliance of the Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). In fact, Praveen Nishad, who had wrested the seat for the Opposition in the state polls also recently switched over to the BJP and will be the party's candidate from the neighbouring Sant Kabir Nagar seat.

 BJP banks big on Bhojpuri stars to draw in votes in eastern UP, West Bengal; Ravi Kishan, Nirahua, Manoj Tiwari given party tickets

File image of Ravi Kishan with Yogi Adityanath. Image courtesy: Twitter @ravikishann

Kishan's first tryst with politics was when he had contested the Lok Sabha election in 2014 as a Congress candidate from his hometown Jaunpur, a city in eastern Uttar Pradesh, where the actor has a massive following. However, a BJP wave in the state ensured his loss and he only got a paltry 4.25 percent of the vote.

The actor had recently met Adityanath and announced his decision to fight elections from "where ever the party will ask him to contest".

With his candidature, the BJP, which is facing a formidable challenge in the SP-BSP alliance, intends to exploit his popularity in the region. Asked whether star power can fetch Bhojpuri voters and defeat rival candidates, he said, "We (stars) only need to go among the voters and spread the vision (of Prime Minister Narendra) Modiji."

BJP leaders had described Kishan as a consensus candidate who neither represents the temple or the Gorakhnath Mutt (of which Adityanath is the head priest), nor the party, but has the support of both.

Meanwhile, Tiwari, who was inducted in a bid to woo over 30 lakh Purvanchali population which could play a decisive role in at least 15 out of 70 constituencies in the Delhi Assembly election, is now playing a big role in consolidating the party's base in an Aam Aadmi Party (AAP)-dominated Delhi.

Just like Kishan, Tiwari had contested the 2009 Lok Sabha election as a Samajwadi Party candidate from Gorakhpur in eastern Uttar Pradesh but lost to Adityanath. Later, he won the North East Delhi (Lok Sabha constituency) in the 2014 Indian general elections on a BJP ticket defeating AAP's Anand Kumar with a margin of 1,44,084 votes.

On the other hand, Dinesh Lal Yadav or 'Nirahua', is contesting against Akhilesh Yadav in Azamgarh, a Samajwadi Party bastion.

With all the stalwarts of Bhojpuri cinema on their side, BJP is hoping to cash in on their mass appeal and popularity to garner votes in key regions and states such as Uttar Pradesh, where the party is keenly looking to re-consolidate its presence.

Your guide to the latest election news, analysis, commentary, live updates and schedule for Lok Sabha Elections 2019 on firstpost.com/elections. Follow us on Twitter and Instagram or like our Facebook page for updates from all 543 constituencies for the upcoming general elections.

Updated Date: Apr 16, 2019 17:24:06 IST

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