The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) declared its second list of 155 candidates for the upcoming UP assembly elections on Sunday evening. Of those named on the day, were the much-awaited candidates for the Noida and Sahibabad seats. These two seats hadn’t been part of the BJP’s first list announced on January 16, as the party was still undecided on the candidates.
After much deliberations, the BJP handed the coveted Noida ticket to Pankaj Singh, son of party veteran and Union home minister Rajnath Singh. Pankaj currently holds the post of the party’s UP general secretary. The state polls, which are to begin on February 11, will mark his foray in an electoral contest.
Since the announcement of the poll dates for UP, Pankaj had been in the reckoning for the Sahibabad seat. His father was elected to the Parliament from the Ghaziabad seat in 2009.
Sources said, though being initially considered for the Sahibabad seat, Pankaj’s name was ticked off the probable’s list as pressure grew from within the party to field a Brahmin face instead. The party eventually zeroed in on former MLA Sunil Sharma.
“The party leadership took the final call on the allotment of tickets. We’re all set to take the battle to the opposition now. The alliance between the Congress and the Samajwadi Party is proof that they are scared of the BJP and have joined hands in a last-ditch attempt to garner votes,” Ajay Sharma, city president, BJP, said.
The naming of Rajnath’s son also came as a blow to the BJP’s sitting Noida MLA Vimla Batham. She was elected MLA in a bypoll held after the 2014 Lok Sabha elections.
A former MLA, Sharma won the Ghaziabad seat in 2007 trouncing the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) opponent. In the 2012 state polls, he contested the Sahibabad seat but came up short against then sitting BSP MLA Amarpal Sharma. Amarpal recently joined the Congress after being expelled by the BSP.
With the announcement on Sunday, the BJP named its candidates for all five assembly seats in the district — Loni, Murad Nagar, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad and Modi Nagar. With the naming of Pankaj as the Noida candidate, the BJP now has nominees from all three seats in Gautam Budh Nagar. The other two nominees are Tejpal Nagar from Dadri and Dhirendra Singh from Jewar assembly segments.
With the release of its second list on Sunday, the BJP declared nominees from 304 of the 403 assembly seats in UP. The announcement came on a day the Congress and Samajwadi Party sealed the alliance that had seemed uncertain even till Saturday. The parties made the tie-up official at a press conference in Lucknow on Sunday. The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which had been tipped to join forces with the Congress and SP, decided to fight the polls on its own steam.
The RLD on Sunday put out its third list naming Shamsad Chaudhary as one of its nominees. A resident of Pasonda and a first-timer, Chaudhary will contest the Sahibabad seat. However, the party still hasn’t declared its Ghaziabad nominee. With the announcement on Sunday, the Ajit Singh-led party has named candidates for four of the five Ghaziabad seats.