The BJP released Saturday its first list of 107 candidates for the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, fielding Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur Urban and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya from Sirathu. They replace sitting MLAs — this will be the first Assembly election for Adityanath.
Apart from them, the list has names of 57 candidates for the first phase of elections and 48 for the second phase. In the first list, 44 candidates are from backward classes and 19 from Scheduled Castes.
Stating that the list includes all sections of the society, Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who released the list at a press conference in New Delhi, said: “We will field Scheduled Caste candidates from general seats as well.”
The BJP has been rattled by resignations of OBC leaders who have crossed over to the rival SP this week. Those who quit the party include three ministers.
At least 20 sitting MLAs have been dropped by the BJP Central Election Committee. The maximum changes have been made in Agra district where five MLAs have been dropped.
In Agra Rural, BJP vice-president Baby Rani Maurya, who resigned last year as Governor of Uttarakhand, has replaced sitting MLA Hemlata Diwakar.
Party sources said anti-incumbency was a factor for changes in several constituencies.
Pradhan said: “We have announced candidates for 107 seats today… of the 83 sitting MLAs (from constituencies in the list), 63 have been repeated. In 20 seats, we have decided to engage the sitting (MLAs) in other works.”
“We have given tickets to 21 new candidates,” he said in response to a query.
“Today, we are announcing (candidates for) 57 of 58 seats in the first phase of the elections and 48 of 55 seats in the second phase. The remaining seats have been discussed at a meeting of our party’s parliamentary board and the national president has been given the right (to decide names for those seats). Besides, some seats will be given to our alliance partners. Therefore, we are not declaring those seats today,” he said.
He said he was confident that the BJP will win over 300 seats. “We are confident that the people of UP will bless us again in this great festival of 2022.”
Underlining that the party decides candidates on the basis of parameters like winnability, dedication to the party, clarity on party’s ideology, he said: “Generally, 20-25 per cent new faces are included by a party in the list of Assembly candidates and a progressive party tries to maintain this ratio when deciding about its sitting candidates. We have followed that healthy tradition. All able workers will be given responsibility,” he said.
“The BJP is a very big party. Many people join and leave our caravan,” he said in response to a question. “The issue is the welfare of the poor… how many poor got a house, electricity connection, drinking water and Ujjawala connection… Covid-19 vaccine… ration without involvement of middlemen… Some new friends are also joining,” he said.
Announcing the candidature of Power Minister Shrikant Sharma from Mathura, BJP general secretary Arun Singh said: “We remember power was not available for even 3-4 hours during the rule of the Samajwadi Party. Electricity used to come for some time during the day and night. This was the situation… Today, the picture of Uttar Pradesh has completely changed. Electricity is available for 24 hours in villages and cities.”
Soon after he was named the party choice for the Gorakhpur Urban seat which will go to polls in the sixth phase on March 3, Chief Minister Adityanath, in a Twitter post, thanked Prime Minister Narendra Modi, BJP president JP Nadda and the party parliamentary board for his candidature.
This will be his first Assembly election, that too from his home turf. Sitting MLA Radha Mohan Das Agarwal, a four-term legislator from Gorakhpur Urban and considered close to Adityanath, has made way for the Chief Minister.
In 2002, Adityanath had supported him as the Akhil Bharat Hindu Mahasabha candidate against BJP nominee Shiv Pratap Shukla. Agarwal later contested the elections as the BJP candidate from the same seat and won in 2007, 2012 and 2017.
Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is contesting from Sirathu which will vote in the fifth phase on February 27. Sitting MLA Sheetla Prasad, who won the seat in 2017, has made way for him.
Maurya was elected MLA from Sirathu in 2012 but after his election to Lok Sabha in 2014, the party had fielded Prasad in 2017.
MLA Pankaj Singh, son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, has been retained for the Noida seat while MLA Sangeet Som is being fielded again from Sardhana.
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