LUCKNOW: As the planets moved into an auspicious alignment, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) finally put its cards on the table, declaring 10 candidates on Sunday, the first day of Navratra, for the upcoming bypolls to be held on October 21 in Uttar Pradesh.
While the highlight of the list of 10 candidates was the social and caste equations in the selection, the party also reaffirmed its alliance with the Apna Dal (S) of Anupriya Patel by fielding one of its candidates on the Apna Dal (S) symbol in Pratapgarh.
Notably, Anupriya Patel, chief of Apna Dal (S), has allegedly been sulking as neither she, who was a member of the Modi government in its first term, was inducted in the Modi 2.0 cabinet nor her husband Ashish Singh was given a berth in the Yogi government in UP.
However, Apna Dal enjoys respectable clout among Kurmis in eastern UP. Raj Kumar Pal, a district-level functionary of the BJP who had switched over to the saffron camp from the SP, would contest from the Pratapgarh assembly on the Apna Dal (S) symbol, said party sources.
The decision on the candidature of Pal was finalised separately late on Sunday night. Thus the BJP has contemplated leaving a seat – Pratapgarh -- for ally Apna Dal (S). Earlier also, Apna Dal (S) had the sitting MLA -- Sangam Lal Gupta -- from here. Gupta was elected to the Lok Sabha in 2019 and Apna Dal was demanding the Pratapgarh seat.
However, in other seats, the BJP seems to have expressed confidence in its own workers belonging to the party organisation. Many of the candidates chosen by the party are young and would be facing the electoral battle for the first time.
Keeping the social equations in mind, five of the 10 candidates belong to upper castes, two from backward castes and three from Scheduled Castes.
Among the five upper caste candidates, three are Brahmins, including Suresh Tiwari in Lucknow Cant, a loyal party hand in Surendra Maithani in Govind Nagar, Kanpur, and Anand Shukla from Manikpur in Chitrakoot, Bundelkhand region.
For the crucial Rampur seat, the BJP has opted for Bharat Bhushan Gupta against SP MP Azam Khan’s wife Tazeen Fatima, whom the party declared as its candidate on Sunday. There was speculation that the BJP could, in order to divide Muslim votes, prop up a Muslim candidate but at the last moment the party settled for Gupta in a seat where Muslim candidates have been winning for decades.
Even the Congress and BSP have also fielded Muslim candidates -- Arshad Ali Khan and Zubair Masood Khan—respectively in Rampur.
In Aligarh’s Iglas seat, the party settled for Rajkumar Sahyogi, who has been associated with the RSS for nearly three decades. In Rajbhar-dominated Ghosi seat, the party has chosen Vijay Rajbhar and in Gangoh, it has fielded Kirat Singh Gurjar.
Both Rajbhar and Gurjar come from backward classes. However, three candidates belonging to Scheduled Castes – Saroj Sonkar, Rajkumar Sahyogi and Ambrish Rawat—have been fielded from Balha (Bahraich) Iglas (Aligarh) and Zaidpur (Barabanki), respectively, all reserved seats.
All the candidates declared by the party are filing their nominations on Monday, the last day for filing nominations. These bypolls were required after the sitting MLAs were elected to the Lok Sabha.
Of these, barring Rampur, which the Samajwadi Party had won, and Ambedkarnagar, which the Bahujan Samaj Party had won, the rest of the seats were all with the BJP and its allies.