ONLY ONE of four Congress candidates asked by the party to withdraw their candidature against ally Samajwadi Party’s official nominees has agreed. Hanuman Prasad from Mankapur seat (in Gonda district) withdrew his nomination, while Maroof Khan from Lucknow Central, Anil Singh from Shohratgarh (Siddharth Nagar) and Bhagat Ram Mishra from Payagpur (Bahraich) refused. It was not possible for Maroof Khan to withdraw his candidature, as the last date of withdrawal for Lucknow Central seat was February 3. He also refused to stop campaigning and maintained that he will contest as the Congress candidate against, among others, Cabinet minister Ravidas Mehrotra of the SP. Lucknow Central goes to the polls on February 19.
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Refusing to pull out of the race, Anil Singh and Bhagat Ram Mishra claimed that they were not officially informed about the party’s decision asking them to withdraw. These two seats, along with Hanuman Prasad’s Mankapur, go to the polls on February 27. Monday was the last date for withdrawal of nomination on these seats.
Congress spokesperson Satyadev Tripathi said the party’s senior leadership had instructed the four to withdraw their candidature. Congress had won Payagpur in 2012 but the sitting MLA, Mukesh Srivastava, joined the SP during Rahul Gandhi’s Kisan Yatra in UP last year. He is now the SP candidate from Payagpur.
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“There is a considerable presence of Brahmins in this seat, which I hope will be in my favour. Mukesh is no longer a part of the party and I am contesting against him,” Mishra, secretary of the party’s state unit, said. “I am the official (Congress) candidate…and was given the party symbol. I did not get any official information and will contest.” Anil Singh, contesting against Ugrasen Singh of SP, said, “Samay rehte kehna chahiye thha. I should have been informed earlier). I have my supporters and workers, and I will contest.”