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UP polls: Desertions continue in BJP camp as minister, 2 MLAs quit; Cong, SP-RLD announce first list of candidates

🔴 Uttar Pradesh will go to polls along with four other states -- Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur -- in seven phases from February 10 to March 7 and the results of all the assembly elections will be declared on March 10.

By: Express Web Desk | New Delhi |
Updated: January 14, 2022 1:33:26 pm
Dharam Singh Saini with SP chief Akhilesh Yadav (Photo: Twitter/Akhilesh Yadav); BJP MLAs Vinay Shakya (L) and Mukesh Verma (R) (Photo: PTI)

With the Assembly elections set to kickstart next month, Uttar Pradesh has been witnessing a slew of dramatic political developments, many of which could be seen as a huge setback for the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in the state.

Uttar Pradesh will go to polls along with four other states — Uttarakhand, Goa, Punjab and Manipur — in seven phases from February 10 to March 7 and the results of all the assembly elections will be declared on March 10. The state, which is the first to go to polls, will vote across 403 seats.

Minister Dharam Singh Saini resigns from UP Cabinet

Uttar Pradesh Minister of State (Ayush, Food Security and Drug Administration) Dharam Singh Saini Thursday became the third cabinet minister and the eight MLA to resign in the last three days. Saini, who represents the Nakur constituency in Saharanpur district, is a four-time MLA.

Soon after submitting his resignation, Saini met Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in an indication towards joining the party.

BJP MLAs Mukesh Verma and Vinay Shakya quit BJP

In another setback, BJP MLA Mukesh Verma quit the saffron party on Thursday, weeks ahead of the Assembly elections.

Verma, an MLA from Shikohabad in Firozabad district, said that no attention was paid to leaders from Dalit, backward and minority communities by the BJP government led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in the last five years.

In yet another jolt to the party, another BJP MLA, Vinay Shakya, also quit the party earlier in the day. “Swami Prasad Maurya is the voice of the downtrodden and he is our leader. I am with him,” Shakya wrote in his resignation letter to the party.

The flurry of desertions began with OBC leader and five-term MLA Swami Prasad Maurya, who resigned on Tuesday as Minister for Labour and Employment in the Yogi cabinet. Then on Wednesday, another senior OBC leader, Dara Singh Chauhan, the minister for Forests, Environment and Animal Husbandry, quit.

Avtar Singh Bhadana, Brijesh Kumar Prajapati, Roshan Lal Varma and Bhagwati Sagar are the other leaders who have followed the suit so far.

Congress names mother of Unnao rape victim as its candidate; 50 women in 1st list

The Congress Thursday announced its first list of 125 candidates for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, which also saw 50 women in the fray. Asha Singh, the mother of the Unnao rape victim, and Ramraj Gond, who had spearheaded the Gond tribals’ legal battle over land in Umbha village in Sonbhadra, are among the women candidates.

Addressing a virtual press conference, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi said that out of the total 125 candidates, 40 per cent were women and 40 per cent the youth. “With this historic initiative, we hope to bring in a new kind of politics in the state,” she added.

CM Adityanath, his deputies likely to contest polls

The BJP on Thursday finalised its candidates for 172 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and is likely to field both Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya who are currently members of the Legislative Council, party leaders said.

Polling in most of these 172 seats will be held in the initial phases beginning February 10 and the party is also considering fielding Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma and state unit president Swatantra Dev Singh.

According to party sources quoted by PTI, Adityanath is likely to be fielded from Ayodhya and Maurya from Sirathu constituency. Sharma may contest from one of the assembly constituencies in state capital Luknow.

SP-RLD alliance announces first candidate list for 29 seats 

The Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance on Thursday announced its first list of 29 candidates for the first phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. Of the 29 seats, the SP has fielded candidates on 10 and the RLD on 19, according to a list shared on social media by the two parties which had announced a tie-up last year.

Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Chaudhary during a joint rally in Meerut. (File photo: Twitter/samajwadiparty)

Of the 29 candidates announced Thursday, Babita Devi of the RLD is the lone woman nominee who will be putting up the electoral fight from Baldev assembly constituency.

All these seats fall in western region of Uttar Pradesh and will go to polls in the first phase on February 10.

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