Updated: January 16, 2022 1:49:23 am
In its first list of 107 candidates for the first and second phases of the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, which involves western UP, the BJP has denied tickets to 20 sitting MLAs, bringing in new faces, such as Dalit leader and former Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Maurya and an orthopaedic doctor, in their constituencies.
According to the list released on Saturday, the BJP is fielding a total of 23 new faces for the 10 and 14 February polls, which include nominees to replace three incumbent party legislators who passed away in recent months.
The ruling party has made maximum changes in Agra district, dropping its sitting MLAs in five seats. Then comes Bulandshahr district where it has replaced four incumbent legislators with new faces.
The saffron party had swept 6 of the 11 districts in western UP in the 2017 Assembly polls, winning 27 of the total 29 seats in Meerut, Bulandshahr, Baghpat, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli and Hapur districts. For the February polls, it has denied tickets to almost one fourth of the 27 sitting legislators in these 6 districts.
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BJP sources said that the party has denied tickets to its sitting candidates due to the “anti-incumbency factor” against them in their respective constituencies. They added that in some seats the sitting MLAs were replaced as they had ceased to remain active due to various factors including old age or ill health among others.
In Agra Rural, the BJP has replaced sitting MLA Hemlata Diwakar with party national vice president Baby Rani Maurya, who had last year resigned from the post of Uttarakhand governor. She had lost the Assembly election from Etmadpur in 2007 as BJP candidate.
The BJP’s prominent Dalit face, Rani Maurya, 65, had become Agra’s first woman mayor in 1995. She had later also served as a member of the National Commission for Women (NCW) for three years.
In Fatehpur Sikri, the BJP has replaced Chaudhary Udhaybhan Singh with former MP Chaudhary Babulal who had been denied the Lok Sabha ticket in 2019.
The anti-incumbency was given as the reason for change in Etmadpur where sitting MLA Ram Pratap Singh has been replaced with Dharampal Singh who had lost election from this seat on 2017 as BSP candidate and joined the BJP subsequently. The party has cited the same reason while changing candidate in Fatehabad seat where MLA Jitendra Verma has been dropped and Chhotelal Verma has been given ticket.
For the Kheragarh seat, the party has replaced sitting MLA Mahesh Kumar Goyal, an upper caste leader, with OBC leader Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha who had lost here in 2017 as a BSP candidate. Kushwaha is considered close to Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya.
In Bilsi, where BJP MLA Pandit Radha Krishan Sharma recently crossed over to the SP, the party has fielded OBC leader Harish Shakya. BJP sources claimed that the party had already decided to deny ticket to Sharma due to anti-incumbency against him.
In Bulandshahr district, where the BJP had clinched all seven seats in 2017 elections, it has denied tickets to four sitting MLAs. From the Bulandshahr seat, the party has fielded Pradeep Chaudhary this time in place of sitting legislator Vijendra Singh Sirohi. In Dibai seat, it has fielded C P Singh, denying ticket to Anita Lodhi. In Khurja (Rural), the party has fielded Meenakshi Singh in place of Vijendra Khatik, and in Secundarabad it has replaced Bimla Singh Solanki with new face Laxmiraj Singh.
In Barauli, Dalveer Singh had won in 2017 but due to his ill health the BJP has replaced him with Thakur Javeer Singh, who had lost against Dalveer as a BSP nominee in 2017.
Among other prominent faces dropped in the BJP’s first list of candidates is former state party president Laxmikant Bajpai, who had lost from Meerut against an SP nominee in the 2017 polls. In his place, the party has given ticket to Kamal Dutt Sharma, Bajpai’s trusted man, who is the regional coordinator of the party’s western UP unit.
The BJP has also made changes in a few seats in Meerut district. In Meerut Cantonment, Amit Aggarwal is the new
candidate in place of senior party leader Satyaprakash Agarwal, whom the party dropped citing his age above 80 years.
In Siwal Khas, the party denied ticket to Jat leader Jitendra Pal Singh (Billu) citing anti-incumbency against him in the constituency and gave ticket to another Jat leader Manendra Pal Singh. In Nakur, whose sitting MLA Dharam Singh Saini, an OBC leader, recently quit as a minister from the Adityanath Yogi Cabinet and joined the SP, the BJP has fielded Mukesh Chaudhary, a Gujjar leader from the OBC community.
Similarly, in Meerapur, where sitting MLA Avtar Singh Bhadana recently joined the RLD, the BJP has fielded Prashant Gurjar, who belongs to the same caste. In Khurja, sitting MLA Vijendra Singh has been replaced with Meenakshi Singh, a lawyer.
In the Govardhan seat in Mathura district, Thakur Meghshyam Singh will contest as BJP nominee in place of sitting MLA Karinda Singh. In Bithari Chainpur, incumbent MLA Rajesh Kumar Mishra has been replaced with another Brahmin leader Dr Raghvendra Sharma.
In Muzaffarnagar district, where the BJP had won all six seats in the previous polls, the party has given poll ticket to Sapna Vijay Kashyap, the wife of incumbent MLA Vijay Kumar Kashyap, who died last year.
In Bareilly Cantonment, the BJP has dropped senior leader Rajesh Agarwal, a four-time MLA, and fielded Sanjeev Agarwal, who is party’s state co-treasurer. Rajesh had resigned as state finance minister in 2019.
From Bithri Chainpur in Bareilly district, the BJP has fielded Dr Raghvendra Sharma, an orthopaedic doctor, in place of sitting MLA Rajesh Kumar Mishra. Hailing from Badaun, Sharma had been active in the RSS and joined the BJP more than a decade ago.
The party has given ticket from Bareilly’s Nawbganj to Dr M P Arya Gangwar after sitting MLA Kesar Singh Gangwar died due to Covid last year. In the previous elections, Dr Arya had protested against the party’s move to field Kesar Singh, who had defected to the BJP from the BSP.
In the Naugawan Sadat seat, former cricketer and minister Chetan Chauhan’s wife Sangeeta Chauhan was elected in the by-election in 2020 after Chauhan’s demise. The party has however replaced her with a new candidate Devendra Nagpal for the upcoming polls.
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