A day after the Election Commission of India (ECI) announced the polling schedule for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday declared the names of its official candidates for 100 out of the state’s 403 assembly segments.
In Ghaziabad, the BSP has named its four sitting MLAs as candidates. The party had won four out of five assembly seats in Ghaziabad with these candidates in the 2012 assembly elections in which the Samajwadi Party (SP) came to power in the state.
The four sitting MLAs are Haji Zakir Ali from Loni, Suresh Bansal from Ghaziabad, Amarpal Sharma from Sahibabad and Wahab Chaudhary from Murad Nagar assembly constituencies. However, this time Chaudhary will contest from Modi Nagar and Sudhan Rawat, the only new candidate, has been chosen for Murad Nagar.
“We were told informally about our selection as candidates. The major agenda will be development and we are trying to retain the seat this time as well,” Sharma said.
Recently, BSP supremo Mayawati had released caste-wise details of shortlisted candidates. It is learnt that she is banking on her popular ‘social engineering’ formula to win votes in the upcoming elections.
Ali has been selected for Loni constituency that has a large Muslim population. Similarly, Sharma is a Brahmin candidate popular in Khoda, Makanpur and other areas of the Brahmin-dominated Sahibabad. Likewise, Bansal is contesting from Ghaziabad city dominated by the trader Vaish community, to which he belongs. Chaudhary will be trying to garner Muslim votes in Modi Nagar, but it also has a major Tyagi, Vaish and Jaat population.
Rawat’s selection for Murad Nagar came as a surprise as the seat has a major population of both Tyagis and Rawat’s Jaat community who will both be sought by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), SP and Congress.
Rawat, who has interests in real estate, has a poor track record in elections. He had unsuccessfully contested mayoral elections against late Teluram Kamboj of the BJP in 2012. He again lost in the 2014 general elections and secured a fourth place as a SP candidate. Sources said he could not secure the SP ticket this time and switched to BSP.
Meanwhile, other major parties are yet to officially announce their list of candidates for the state. In the ruling SP, chief minister Akhilesh and his father, party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav, are locked in a fight over the party reins and the final list of candidates is yet to be released. Congress’ presence in Ghaziabad is considered weak and the BJP has not announced its candidates yet. Sources said there 20-25 different persons vying for a BJP ticket from Ghaziabad city and Sahibabad constituencies.
Two sitting MLAs chosen in Gautam Budh Nagar
The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) on Thursday fielded two sitting MLAs and one first-timer as its candidates for the three constituencies in Gautam Budh Nagar. The party has repeated sitting MLAs Satvir Singh Gujjar from Dadri and Vedram Bhati from Jewar assembly constituencies, and has fielded first-time candidate Ravikant Mishra from Noida.
Dates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections were declared on Wednesday. The Gautam Budh Nagar district will go to polls on February 11 in the first phase itself and results of the state’s elections will be out on March 11, according to the schedule released by the election commission (EC).
While the BSP became the first party to declare a final list of candidates, the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is expected to announce names of its candidates on January 14, three days before the date for filing of nominations begins in Gautam Budh Nagar. Nomination papers can be filed till January 24 and will be scrutinised by election officials on January 25.
Election commission officials said nominations can be withdrawn by 3pm on January 27.
Currently, leaders of all major political parties such as BJP, BSP, Congress and SP are canvassing for polls in villages and urban areas.
“We conducted meetings in Chhalera and Barola today. We had a BSP organisation meeting in Hapur in the morning and in the evening we resumed our campaigns. The SP is busy fighting a war within and the BJP could not even declare its candidates. That says it all,” said BSP candidate Ravikant Mishra, who runs a school in Noida and is running for elections for the first time.
However, BJP leaders in Noida said theirs is a big and a democratic party, and hence announcement of candidates takes time.
“Senior leaders of the BJP will announce the names of the candidates. BJP announces names just before the nomination date so that is not a big issue. Even in 2012, names were declared just before nomination date,” said BJP leader Vimla Batham, sitting MLA from Noida.