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Talk of united opposition fades as SP names candidates for Phulpur, Gorakhpur

The possibility of opposition parties supporting a joint candidate to take on the BJP in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-elections on March 11 ended as Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav announced candidates for the two seats.

lucknow Updated: Feb 19, 2018 13:17 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey
Manish Chandra Pandey
Hindustan Times, Lucknow
SP,Gorakhpur,Phulpur
SP chief Akhilesh Yadav along with partymen at a press conference in Lucknow.(HT Photo)

The possibility of opposition parties supporting a joint candidate to take on the BJP in Gorakhpur and Phulpur Lok Sabha by-elections on March 11 ended as Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav announced candidates for the two seats on Sunday.

The SP has opted for an educated backward class candidate in Pravin Nishad, son of Nishad Party chief Ashok Nishad, for Gorakhpur while it has settled for a locally active party worker Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel, a Kurmi, for Phulpur.

“These bypolls will help send a message,” Akhilesh said even as SP leaders suggested that the alliance with Nishads would also help the party in 2019 Lok Sabha election.

Nishads are politically important in Gorakhpur while Patels dominate Phulpur which is the reason why the SP has decided to back candidates from these caste groups.

“Nishads may disturb BJP’s plan to consolidate non-Yadav OBCs in their favour in eastern UP. The bypolls will offer a proof,” a Samajwadi Party leader said.

Having stitched an alliance with locally influential Nishad Party for Gorakhpur bypoll, the SP is hoping to benefit from what according to party leader claimed BJP’s inner contradictions in Phulpur bypoll.

Besides Nishads – who comprise communities like Mallah and Kewat – accounting for nearly 14 per cent of Gorakhpur electorate, the SP has also got the support of Peace Party leader Dr Ayub.

“I wish to thank Dr Sanjay Nishad for putting up his son as a candidate on our party symbol and his Nishad Party will support us,” Akhilesh said.

A day ahead of announcing the candidates, the SP had inducted Pramod Maurya, nephew of UP minister Swami Prasad Maurya, who had been the OBC face of the BSP till he fell out with party chief Mayawati over ticket distribution.

The Congress has put up Dr Surheeta Chatterjee Kareem, a Bengali gynaecologist who married a Muslim, as its candidate from Gorakhpur while for OBC-dominated Phulpur it has named a Brahmin, Manish Mishra, son of former IAS officer JN Mishra.

Earlier in the day, suspense had built up as during his press conference, Akhilesh only declared the party’s Gorakhpur candidate. “Baat chal rahi hai (talks are on),” is all that he was willing to commit when asked on party plans for Phulpur.

It took a few hours before the party decided to announce Nagendra Pratap Singh Patel for Phulpur, separate announcements for two seats lent credence to the buzz that last minute efforts were on to put up a joint candidate in Phulpur.

The Bahujan Samaj Party that usually doesn’t put up candidates for by-elections has not revealed its plans as yet. However, political observers feel that the chances of BSP chief Mayawati putting up candidates were thin.

The BJP is yet to declare its candidates on both the seats.

First Published: Feb 19, 2018 12:27 IST