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BJP’s mayoral faces: A gun-toting woman, an educationist, an RSS loyalist

Though the BJP picked candidates with diverse background and caste, the one commonality to the selection appears to be party’s decision to back its old cadre, mostly with RSS background

lucknow Updated: Nov 05, 2017 21:45 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
BJP,Bharatiya Janata Party,civic polls
Raju Das (left), the priest of famous Hanumangarhi Temple, with senior BJP leader Rajnath Singh. Das was in the race for BJP’s mayoral candidate from Ayodhya. The BJP, however, opted for Rishikesh Upadhyaya, an educationist.(File Photo)

A gun-toting Brahmin woman leader from Kanpur, an educationist Brahmin from Ayodhya, a former Jatav lawmaker from Meerut, a trader and an RSS loyalist from Gorakhpur and a former deputy mayor, a Vaishya from Agra, comprised the five mayoral candidates that the BJP announced after much deliberation and some heartburn on Saturday night.

The party also released the list of 110 candidates for corporators in Lucknow.

Though it picked candidates with diverse background and caste, the one commonality to the selection appears to be party’s decision to back its old cadre, mostly with RSS background.

The announcement was preceded by a self-immolation bid by Ganesh Soni, a party cadre from Bundelkhand, who was upset at being denied nomination from Hamirpur semi-urban body.

For the first time, there are 16 municipal corporations in UP, including the twin cities of Ayodhya-Faizabad and Mathura-Vrindavan that have been elevated as municipal corporations.

Of all the mayoral names figuring in the first BJP list, three hogged attention. Hours before she officially became party’s mayoral candidate from Kanpur, Pramila Pandey’s pictures – with a shotgun in one hand and a revolver in the other – started getting circulated on the social media.

The photographs were accompanied with a rather filmy one-liner – ‘poorey shahr ko sudhaar ke rakh dungi’ (I will streamline everything in the city).

Read More: BJP pins its hopes on star power as Uttar Pradesh civic polls draw closer

“That’s the line she has been openly saying for last few days,” a BJP leader said suggesting she is an old party hand and an influential woman leader in Kanpur who has been keeping firearms since the 90s.

The BJP opted for Rishikesh Upadhyaya, an educationist who runs a girls’ college, a degree college and a teachers’ training college and has been associated with the temple movement as its mayoral candidate from Ayodhya.

Pitted against Upadhyaya who had organised couple of functions featuring senior RSS leaders in 2016 was Raju Das, the priest of famous Hanumangarhi temple whose head priest Mahant Gyan Das is considered close to the Samajwadi Party.

“It was because of this equation that it was hoped that BJP could settle for Raju Das but in the end the BJP probably decided to back a party hand,” a party leader said.

Upadhyaya would be up against Gulshan Bindu, a transgender who is Samajwadi Party’s mayoral nominee from the temple town, Congress’s Brahmin leader Shailendra Mani Pandey and BSP’s kurmi candidate Girish Chandra Verma.

The other surprise came from Gorakhpur where the BJP settled for trader leader Sitaram Jaiswal over and above former deputy mayor Chiranjeev Chaurasia and Dharmendra Singh, who are considered close to chief minister Yogi Adityanath.

Just before the announcement, UP BJP chief Mahendra Nath Pandey and party’s general secretary (organization) Sunil Bansal reportedly had a meeting with Yogi after which the list was announced.

“Opting for a trader from a city associated with the UP CM is perhaps aimed at assuaging the feelings of business community who despite being considered staunch BJP supporters have been hit by GST and demonetisation,” a party source said. Congress has fielded Dharam Raj Chauhan, an advocate, while Rahul Gupta and Harendra Yadav have been given tickets from SP and BSP respectively.

In Meerut, the BJP settled for former lawmaker Kanta Kardam, who is a Jatav Dalit and currently the state vice president of the party.

In Agra, the BJP has opted for former deputy mayor Navin Jain, a co-treasurer of the party’s UP unit.

First Published: Nov 05, 2017 21:41 IST