UP district panchayat chiefs’ polls: Nomination day reveals shifting political loyalties

Published on Jun 27, 2021 02:35 AM IST

BJP dismisses allegations of foul play, Samajwadi Party expels 11 districts chiefs in Uttar Pradesh after the nomination period

Samajwadi Party supporters during the nomination of the district panchayat president in Varanasi on Saturday. (PTI PHOTO)
Samajwadi Party supporters during the nomination of the district panchayat president in Varanasi on Saturday. (PTI PHOTO)

The nomination day scenes for the zila panchayat chairpersons’ elections on Saturday revealed interesting insights — from missing candidates or proposers to unopposed nomination, from rebels to political loyalties that shifted by the hour. The election is scheduled on July 3.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) may have the upper hand by getting maximum zila panchayat chairpersons elected, many of them “unopposed” in key districts like Gorakhpur and Varanasi.

On the other hand, the opposition Samajwadi Party (SP) complained that its candidates were prevented from filing nominations.

The BJP had fallen behind the Samajwadi Party in the first round of the rural panchayat polls held in April for ward members. It appeared to be looking to make amends now in the zila panchayat chairpersons’ polls where many independents went with the ruling party. Senior ministers and BJP functionaries remained present for the nomination even as SP too got its senior leaders like Ram Govind Chaudhary to be there.

Amid allegations of foul play in at least 12 districts, the SP candidates “failed” to show up for nomination or their proposers went ‘missing.’

At several of these places, the BJP workers had an altercation with Opposition members, mostly SP, who, political observers said, had dominated the opposition space in the run-up to the 2022 UP assembly polls.

Dismissing allegations of foul play, UP BJP spokesman Manish Shukla said, “The Samajwadi Party couldn’t even find candidates in nearly 25 places. The BJP is of course set for a big win as SP’s claims lie hollow.”

The SP expelled its chiefs in 11 districts after the nomination period and several BJP leaders were seen sharing the expulsion letter of the party that they claimed was proof of the SP not being able to even keep its candidates together.

These polls also showcased possible allies for assembly elections.

“So, while SP-RLD combination looked set to continue its alliance for the 2022 UP polls, and BJP and Apna Dal’s alliance too looks firm, Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party’s (SBSP) chief and former UP minister Om Prakash Rajbhar’s backing of the Samajwadi Party is an interesting development because SBSP is planning to set up a front of small parties against the BJP,” said Irshad Ilmi, a veteran journalist and political observer.

The BJP that left two seats for its ally Apna Dal (Sonelal), didn’t contest Etawah, the SP bastion.

The BSP didn’t file nomination even in seats like Moradabad where 11 zila panchayat ward members backed by it had won in the first round of the rural polls, said locals.

“Even in Ghaziabad, where also several ward members backed by BSP had won, the party didn’t file nominations for the zila panchayat chairpersons’ poll,” a local politician claimed.

In Banda, the BSP’s nomination was reportedly cancelled, claimed locals.

In Baghpat, the RLD candidate switched sides to the BJP and then came back to the RLD fold in a few hours of political drama.

In Unnao, the BJP candidate Shakun Singh was up against not just the SP candidate, but also against party rebel Arun Singh who filed his nomination as an independent.

Relatives of some party lawmakers accompanied him for the nomination, making it clear that the sudden withdrawal of his candidature by the BJP and his replacement with wife of a slain lawmaker hadn’t gone down well with Arun Singh, a zila panchayat ward member considered close to the family of four-time former MLA Kuldeep Sengar, who has been expelled from BJP and disqualified from the assembly after his conviction in a rape case. The rape survivor’s appeal against his nomination had forced the BJP to effect the last-minute change, party leaders said.

In Hathras, the BJP fielded Seema Upadhyaya, the wife of former BSP minister Ramvir Upadhaya. In Kanpur, the party chose Swapnil Varun, the daughter of Kamal Rani Varun who was a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government and had died of Covid-19 last year.

Swapnil had recently met chief minister Yogi Adityanath after which it was clear that she was being considered.

In Amroha, the party fielded former MP Kanwar Singh Tanwar’s son Lalit Tanwar who is set to be elected unopposed after the cancellation of SP nominee Shakeena Begum’s nomination on technical grounds.

In Chitrakoot, BJP candidate Ashok Jatav was likely to be elected unopposed as no candidate filed nomination.

Samajwadi Party leader Sachin Yadav, son of former UP minister Narendra Singh Yadav, joined the BJP in Farrukhabad from where BJP decided to back Sachin’s sister Monica Yadav, ex-wife of SP leader Dharmendra Yadav, as an independent.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based assistant editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write off beat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans but from the newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn

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