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UP Polls: SP pits father of sitting BJP MLA in his seat, benches seniors for ex-BSP leaders

Though the BJP has not declared its candidate for the seat, it is likely to retain Arun Kumar Yadav, thereby raising the possibility of a father-son clash.

Written by Asad Rehman | Lucknow |
Updated: January 28, 2022 7:19:44 am
Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav and former MP Ramakant Yadav during a press conference at the party office in Lucknow (ANI photo)

The Samajwadi Party (SP), which on Thursday released its fourth list of 56 candidates for the Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh, has fielded four-time MLA Ramakant Yadav from Phoolpur Pawai seat in Azamgarh district which is currently held by his son and BJP MLA Arun Kumar Yadav.

Though the BJP has not declared its candidate for the seat, it is likely to retain Arun Kumar Yadav, thereby raising the possibility of a father-son clash.
Elected as an SP MP from Azamgarh in 1996, Ramakant Yadav had moved to the BSP as well as BJP, only to return to the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP in 2019. His son Arun, a two-time MLA from Phoolpur Pawai, was also elected as an SP MLA in 2007. In 2017, he as a BJP candidate won the seat defeating BSP’s Abul Qais Azmi by 7,295 votes.

Speaking to The Indian Express on Thursday, Arun said he would not “surrender the seat” to his father. “I work with an ideology and it is my father who is contesting against me and not the other way. I am the sitting MLA, and I hope I will get the ticket from the BJP to retain my seat,” Arun said.

Other prominent candidates in the SP’s latest list are former BSP leaders Lalji Verma and Ram Achal Rajbhar, who have been fielded from Katehari and Akbarpur in Ambedkar Nagar district, respectively. While Verma was a former legislature BSP leader in the Assembly, Rajbhar was a former state BSP chief. Former minister in the previous SP government, Ram Murti Verma has been denied a ticket from Akbarpur to accommodate Rajbhar.

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Earlier this month, Ram Murti had confirmed that he was seeking an SP nomination from Akbarpur. “The party national president (Akhilesh Yadav) will decide who will contest,” Verma had said. In 2017, Rajbhar, then as a BSP candidate, had defeated SP’s Ram Murti Verma.

Similarly, senior SP leader Jaishankar Pandey, who had finished third in 2017 in Katehari, has been benched for BSP MLA Lalji Verma. In June last year, BSP chief Mayawati expelled Lalji and Rajbhar for “indulging in anti-party activities” last year.

Former BSP MP from Ambedkar Nagar Rakesh Pandey, whose son Ritesh was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019 from the district, will fight on the SP symbol from Jalalpur. Ritesh won the seat in 2017, but vacated it after he was elected to Parliament in 2019. Rakesh has also been elected as an MLA from Jalalpur in the past.

Senior SP leader Beni Prasad Verma’s son Rakesh Verma has been fielded from Kursi seat in Barabanki, while former minister Arvind Singh Gope will fight from Dariyabad in the same district.

With the fresh list of 56 candidates, mostly from eastern UP, the SP has so far declared 283 names, including 19 from the RLD.

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