Updated: January 25, 2022 6:07:18 am
While there were no big surprises in the latest list of 159 candidates released by the Samajwadi Party on Monday for the UP Assembly polls, the party chose to nominate both Azam Khan and his son Abdullah Azam from the family pocket borough of Rampur district. Also, the party has fielded former BSP state unit chief RS Kushwaha from Nighasan, a stronghold of BJP minister Ajay Mishra ‘Teni’ whose son is currently in jail in connection with the death of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri last October.
As earlier announced, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav will contest from Karhal in Mainpuri district, while his uncle Shivpal Yadav will try to retain his Jaswantnagar seat in Etawah district. The party has also re-nominated MLA Nahid Hasan from Kairana in Shamli district.
While Azam Khan’s wife Tanzeen Fatima is the incumbent legislator in Rampur, Abdullah will again contest from the district’s Suar constituency. Abdullah was elected from the constituency in the 2017 polls but was disqualified in February 2020 for being younger than 25 years when elected. Azam Khan is in jail in connection with a number of criminal cases. Abdullah — he, too, was in prison along with his father, and was recently released on bail — has started campaigning in the constituency.
In recent days, the party has faced repeated attacks from the BJP that has accused it of having in its ranks leaders with criminal records. The ruling party’s targets have been leaders such as Azam Khan, Abdullah and Hasan, who is a two-time Kairana MLA. The BJP stepped up its criticism after Hasan was arrested under the Gangsters Act over a week ago in connection with a case dating back to February 2021. It also gave rise to speculation that the SP might field Hasan’s 27-year-old sister Iqra but that has now been put to rest.
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Meanwhile, another big name on the SP list is former state minister and Nakur MLA (Saharanpur district) Dharam Singh Saini who resigned from the state Cabinet and the BJP on January 13 and officially joined the Opposition party days later.
Former Congress leader Supriya Anon has been fielded from Bareilly Cantonment. Aron joined the SP on Saturday along with her husband and former Bareilly MP Pravin Singh Aron. The Congress had announced Supriya’s candidature in its first list on January 13.
Former Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) state chief RS Kushwaha who joined the Akhilesh Yadav-led party last year will contest from Nighasan constituency. He will be up against sitting MLA Shashank Verma, who was elected in a 2019 by-poll after the death of his father and two-time MLA Ramkumar Verma.
Union Minister Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish Mishra was preparing to contest from Nighasan seat on behalf of the BJP but he is now in jail in connection with the alleged murder of four farmers and a journalist in October in Lakhimpur Kheri’s Tikunia area.
On January 13, the SP-led alliance had announced the first set of 29 candidates for western UP in which the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) was allocated 19 constituencies. On Sunday, the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) of Om Prakash Rajbhar, which is another SP ally, announced the first alliance candidate in eastern UP. The SBSP fielded Sunil Arskvanshi on from Sandila in Hardoi district.
The SP’s second list covers the districts of Saharanpur, Shamli, Bijnor, Moradabad, Jalaun, Jhansi, Lalitpur, Hamirpur, Mahoba, Banda, Fatehpur, Sambhal, Rampur, Amroha, Meerut, Sitapur, Hardoi, Unnao, Bareilly, Pilibhit, Shahjahanpur, Lakhimpur Kheri, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Gautam Budh Nagar, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Hathras, Mathura, Agra, Raebareilly, Farukhabad, Kannauj, Etawah, Auraiya, Kanpur Dehat, Kanpur Nagar, Firozabad, Kasganj, Etah, Mainpuri, and Badaun.
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