SP Singh Baghel was the Other Backward Caste (OBC) face of the BJP and headed the OBC Morcha till November last year. For the upcoming polls, Baghel has been fielded as a Scheduled Caste (SC) candidate from a reserved seat, Tundla, in Firozabad district.
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Baghel explains that he belongs to ‘Dhangar’ community which is a sub-caste of ‘Gaderia’ specified in the OBC list. Then, in between 2012 to 2014, orders were issued by the High Court, National Commission for Scheduled Commission and the UP government to issue an SC certificate to Dhangar in October last year. Till then, Baghel had been introducing himself as an OBC.
Baghel claimed that presenting himself as SC during the canvassing will not be a problem for him because people recognise him individually as “SP Singh Baghel” when he contested the Lok Sabha elections there. Baghel claimed that he had polled maximum votes in Tundla assembly segment when he contested as Lok Sabha elections from Firozabad in 2009 as a BSP nominee and again in 2014 as BJP candidate.
BJP in-charge for Tundla Assembly constituency Gajendra Jadaun said, “Samajwadi Party too has given ticket to Maharaj Singh Dhangar from Tundla because Dhangar is now in the SC list.”
Baghel, a former police officer, was introduced into politics after the Samajwadi Party fielded him in the 1998 Lok Sabha elections, which he won from Jalesar. He would continue to win the same seat twice more. The seat was later scrapped in a delimitation exercise. The SP later refused to field him from Firozabad, giving the ticket to incumbent state CM Akhilesh Yadav. He would then join the BSP and contested the same seat but lost. He joined the BJP in 2014 as a Rajya Sabha member.