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Following the exit of BSP leaders Swami Prasad Maurya and Brajesh Pathak, party president Mayawati had said that this was because she had denied election tickets to members of their families, and that she wanted to prevent nepotism from spreading in the party.
Today, the BSP’s 401 candidates — two remain to be announced — include a number of men and women who are members of party leaders’ immediate families. In some districts, a father and his son are contesting two seats. In others, a pair of siblings are contesting in seats next to each other.
Some old BSP cadres have noted how similar this is to what other parties are known to do, and how different it is from the days when the party founder, Kanshi Ram, had severed ties with his family to devote himself to politics.
Syeda Begum, wife of former MP Kadir Rana, is the BSP candidate from Budhana of Muzaffarnagar district. This is her first election. She had filed her nomination during the Lok Sabha elections too but then withdrawn. Rana’s brother Noor Salim, meanwhile, is the sitting BSP MLA from Charthawal and is recontesting from there.
In the same district is Shivan Singh Saini, making his electoral debut from Khatauli. He is a son of former Rajya Sabha MP Rajpal Singh Saini. His father, whose term in Rajya Sabha expired last year, had been a BSP MLA in 2002.
Controversial former minister Haji Mohammad Yakub, who served in the previous Mayawati government, is the candidate from Meerut South while his son, Mohammad Imran, will debut from Sardhana in the same district. Yakub had lost in the 2014 Lok Sabha poll to Moradabad.
While sitting MLA and former minister Ramveer Upadhyaya is seeking his fifth term from Sadabad of Hathras district, his brother Mukul is contesting from Shikarpur of Bulandshahr. Mukul Upadhyaya, who was the BSP MLC until January last year, had unsuccessfully contested the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Ghaziabad.
Vivek Singh, elder son of Rajya Sabha MP Veer Singh, will make his debut from the reserved seat of Nehtaur in Bijnor. The seat had been won by the BSP’s Om Kumar in 2012 but he left the party last year and joined the BJP. Veer Singh is a senior Dalit leader of the party in western UP.
Virmavati, the wife of BSP zonal coordinator and former MLA Girish Chandra Jatav, will be contesting from Chandausi, a reserved seat in Sambhal. Jatav, who was an MLA in 2007 but lost in the 2012 assembly and 2014 Lok Sabha elections from Bulandshahr, is now BSP coordinator in western UP’s Moradabad division, which includes Sambhal.
In Badaun district, sitting MLA Musarrat Ali “Bittan” will recontest from Bilsi while his brother Arshad Ali will contest the adjoining Sahaswan seat. In Bareilly, Sultan Beig, the sitting MLA from Meerganj district, will contest again while his brother Suleiman Beig will contest from neighbouring Bhojipura.
Mohammad Iqbal, contesting from Behat seat of Saharanpur district, is a former MLC. Last August, the Supreme Court had asked the CBI to probe alleged money laundering through companies linked to him. Iqbal is the brother of BSP MLC Mehmood Ali, who was elected last year through a local authority seat.
In eastern UP, Vinay Shankar Tiwari, son of muscleman Hari Shankar Tiwari, is the BSP candidate from Chillupar seat of Gorakhpur district. The seat had been held by the BSP’s Rajesh Tripathi but he joined the BJP last year. Vinay Shankar Tiwari belongs to an influential family of the BSP. His brother Bhishma Shankar a.ka. Kushal used to be the MP from Khalilabad in Sant Kabir Nagar; he lost to the BJP in 2014.
Vinay himself has contested a number of elections without success. In 2007, he lost to the SP’s Neeraj Shekhar in a Lok Sabha bypoll to Ballia. In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, he lost to the BJP’s Yogi Adityanath in Gorakhpur. In the 2012 assembly elections, he lost again to the BJP in Bansi of Siddharthnagar district.
Vinay’s maternal uncle Ganesh Shankar Pandey, meanwhile, is the BSP candidate from Paniyara in neighbouring Maharajganj district. Pandey has been a member of the Legislative Council, UP’s Upper House, serving as its chairperson until his retirement in January last year.
In Ambedkar Nagar, Ritesh Pandey, son of former MP Rakesh Pandey, is again the party’s candidate from Jalalpur. In 2012, he had lost to the SP’s Sher Bahadur. His father lost his Lok Sabha seat to the BJP in 2014.