BSP may field godmanís wife from Mirzapur

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is likely to field Priyanka Pandey, wife of Chinmayanand Bapu, a Hindu seer who gives religious discourses worldwide, for the Lok Sabha election from Mirzapur. This is the first time that the BSP is seriously considering fielding a woman from a deeply religious background, in an election.

UP has seen several Hindu religious men and women contesting elections, most of them were fielded by the BJP. They included Swami Chinmayanand, Ram Vilas Vedanti, Sakshi Maharaj, Mahant Awaidyanath, his disciple Yogi Adityanath, and sadhvis Uma Bharti, Niranjana Jyoti, Savitri Bai Phule. On one occasion, the SP fielded Sakshi Maharaj in the Rajya Sabha election.

Bapu (32), hails from Gaipar village in Mirzapur district and is a regular visitor at his ancestral village. He has a large following and is often travelling to deliver discourses, mainly the Ram Katha. His wife Priyanka Pandey is addressed as Gurumata by his followers.

Ram Asrey Bharti, Mirzapur district president of BSP, stated that officially the candidate would be declared on December 16 and Priyanka Pandey was the frontrunner. "If it is a Brahmin candidate, she is sure to bag the ticket", Bharti stated.

Bharti said that Priyanka's victory was sure if she contested on the BSP ticket. Locals said Priyanka was now regularly seen on the stage along with her husband during the programmes in Mirzapur.

At present, Mirzapur is represented by Bal Kumar Patel of Samajwadi Party, who is the brother of slain dacoit Dadua. However, Patel's name does not figure in the list of 63 candidates declared so far by the party.

Presently, the BSP and the Congress have one Assembly seat each while the SP has three Assembly seats in Mirzapur district. One of the SP legislators, Kailash Chaurasia, is Minister of State for Basic Education and Child Development.

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