The state Congress on Tuesday found itself in an awkward situation when three of its leaders filed nomination papers for the Lucknow mayor’s post. At the last minute, it decided to field Prema Awasthi as its official candidate for the post of mayor, a day after it had announced the name of retired bureaucrat Kusum Sharma for the same.
While Kusum and Prema filed their papers with the party symbol, the third nomination was filed without the symbol by former president of Uttar Pradesh Mahila Congress, Ansuiya Sharma. Tuesday was the last date of filing nomination for the Lucknow Municipal Corporation elections.
Sources said the Congress decided to change its official candidate at the last minute after Kusum failed to provide the required nomination papers. The party feared that her nomination would be rejected during scrutiny. Prema is the wife of former Congress leader Surendra Awasthi alias Puttu Awasthi, who had earlier joined BSP. Her son had joined BJP recently.
“I was informed about my candidature around 12 noon today. I do not know what happened with Kushum Sharma but I would do as the party asks me to,” 59-year-old Prema told The Indian Express.
Sources said Puttu Awasthi, who was a three-time Congress MLA, had left his Assembly seat in Barabanki in 2001 for then chief minister Rajnath Singh. He had later joined BSP.
“None of that is going to impact my candidature and my election. I am a general secretary of the Congress, and this is what matters. I will do as my party asks me to,” Prema said.
When contacted, Congress spokesperson Virendra Madan said, “Following some shortcomings in the filing of nomination papers of Kusum Sharma, who was declared the party candidate a day before, the party decided to allot its symbol to Prema Awasthi, who would now be considered the Congress’ official candidate.”
TUSSLE OVER TICKETS
The Congress headquarters in Lucknow on Tuesday saw a tussle between City Congress president Bodh Lal Shukla and a party worker over distribution of tickets on general seats. Sources in the party said that while Shukla maintained that a Scheduled Caste member would not be given a ticket on a general seat, the party worker was adamant that she should be given the same. ENS