The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday announced 149 of its candidates for the upcoming state assembly elections. In Ghaziabad district, the party declared candidates for four of the five seats.
The candidate for the Sahibabad assembly seat, the largest segment, is yet to be announced. Among the probables is Pankaj Singh, eldest son of Union home minister Rajnath Singh. In 2009, Rajnath had contested the general elections from Ghaziabad and won. Pankaj is also the general secretary of BJP state unit.
Another probable is ex-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate Amarpal Sharma, who was expelled from BSP on Monday. Pankaj could also contest from neighbouring Noida as the BJP is yet to announce its candidate for that segment.
For the Ghaziabad assembly seat, the BJP, once again, named Atul Garg. He hails from a family that runs educational institutions and housing business. Garg is also the son of former Ghaziabad mayor, the late Dinesh Chand Garg. Atul Garg lost in the 2012 elections to BSP MLA Suresh Bansal, who had secured 35.57% votes against Garg’s 28.88%. Garg is one of the directors of LandCraft Developers private limited.
The party is fielding Dr Manju Shivach from Modi Nagar, the only woman candidate among the four for the district. She is also a former district president of the BJP’s women’s wing. The last woman to win a seat in the district was Congress’ Vimla Singh, from Modi Nagar, in 1985.
From Loni, the party is fielding Nand Kishore, who gained popularity as a student leader. He is from the Gurjar community and had joined the BJP in 2009, before which he had his own organisation Ajgarsena.
In a surprise move, BJP is fielding Ajit Tyagi, son of Rajpal, a former minister in the Mayawati-led government from Murad Nagar. Rajpal had held the portfolios of agriculture, education and research. Rajpal had contested the 2012 elections as an SP member but lost to the BSP candidate.
Apart from five assembly seats in Ghaziabad district, the sixth seat of Dhaulana (part) also falls under Ghaziabad.
For the Dhaulana assembly seat, a predominant Thakur belt falling under Satha Chaurasi, BJP has fielded Dr Ramesh Chandra Tomar, a four-time former BJP MP from Ghaziabad. Tomar had switched to the Congress in 2009 as Rajnath contested from Ghaziabad.
Tomar went on to contest from Khurja on a Congress ticket but lost. In 2014, he was declared a candidate from Gautam Budh Nagar on a Congress ticket but made a surprise exit just ahead of the polls and rejoined the BJP during an election rally held by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in Ghaziabad.
Securing seats in Ghaziabad has been a struggle for the party. It did not win even a single seat in 2012, while it secured the Ghaziabad seat in 2007, through Sunil Kumar Sharma, who defeated BSP’s Suresh Bansal. The previous success was in 2002 when Narendra Singh Shishodiya had defeated SP’s Dharmesh Tomar from Modi Nagar.
In the 2012 elections, BJP came in second in Sahibabad and Ghaziabad segments. It came in third in Loni and Murad Nagar, and fourth in Modi Nagar.
Besides BJP, the Bahujan Samaj Party has also declared the list of candidates. In Ghaziabad, the BSP has named four of its sitting MLAs as candidates for 2017 assembly elections. However, on Monday, BSP expelled Sahibabad seat candidate Amarpal Sharma and is likely to announce a new candidate soon.