Battle for bypolls: BJP springs last-minute surprise, decides to field its candidate on ally Apna Dal (S) ticket in UP’s Pratapgarh
The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday declared 10 candidates for the bypolls on 11 seats on October 21 in Uttar Pradesh, while deciding to field one of its candidates on ally Apna Dal (S) ticket for the Pratapgarh seat.
Raj Kumar Pal, a district level BJP functionary who was earlier with the Samajwadi Party, will be contesting the Pratapgarh assembly on the Apna Dal (S) symbol.
This was decided late on Sunday night after suspense over the seat for which Apna Dal (S) had also staked claim.
The Samajwadi Party had employed a similar strategy in 2018 Lok Sabha by-polls to surprise BJP in Gorakhpur and Kairana.
In 2014 polls, the BJP had allotted Pratapgarh Lok Sabha seat to Apna Dal which won it. In 2017 UP polls, the Pratapgarh assembly seat too was left by BJP for Apna Dal whose candidate Sangam Lal Bahuguna won it easily. In 2019 LS polls, however, Bahuguna won on BJP symbol.
“There was a big list of candidates on the seat. Maybe, the ‘our candidate, your party’ formula is meant to kill two birds with one stone. It would help contain rebels within the party while placating the Kurmi-based ally Apna Dal, ” a BJP leader said.
HT has learnt that BJP ministers and party leaders would be in Pratapgarh on Monday for the nomination. Chief minister Yogi Adityanath and UP BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh Patel have already campaigned in Pratapgarh.
Since 2014 LS polls, when the BJP allied with Apna Dal, the party has consistently relied on allies. In 2017 UP polls, along with Apna Dal, it also inked pact with Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) to win support of Rajbhars, an OBC community sub-sect to which SBSP largely caters to.
However, after SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar turned rebel, the BJP quickly propped up Anil Rajbhar, who had for two years served as an understudy to the more influential Om Prakash.
In the recent ministry expansion, Anil was elevated as cabinet minister. Similarly, to promote its own Kurmi leadership, the BJP first appointed Swatantra Dev Singh Patel, a Kurmi, as UP BJP chief and then inducted two Kurmis - Nilima Katiyar and Ram Shankar Singh Patel – as ministers in the Yogi Adityanath government.
The party in 2019 LS polls also inked a pact with Nishad Party, comprising primarily members of riverine community who are counted as backwards. For the coveted Lucknow (Cantt) seat, the party has given ticket to Suresh Tiwari, a three-term lawmaker who is currently the chief of party’s Awadh region. In Govindnagar (Kanpur), the party has opted for a loyal party hand in Surendra Maithani, a leader of Uttarakhand origin, born and brought up in Govindnagar.
For the Rampur assembly seat, the BJP has propped up Bharat Bhushan Gupta against SP MP Azam Khan’s wife and Rajya Sabha member Tazeen Fatima, whom the party declared as its candidate on Sunday.
There were speculations that the BJP could, in order to divide Muslim votes, prop up a Muslim candidate but at the last moment the party settled for Gupta in a seat where Muslim candidates have been winning for decades. In Aligarh’s Iglas seat, the party settled for district general secretary Rajkumar Sahyogi, who has been associated with the RSS for nearly three decades. In Chitrakoot’s Manikpur, the BJP has opted for Anand Shukla, its state working committee member. In Rajbhar-dominated Ghosi seat, it chose Vijay Rajbhar and in Gangoh it has fielded Kirat Singh.