LUCKNOW: Under attack by the main rival BJP for distributing party symbols ‘under the table’ to the candidates and not releasing the list, the Samajwadi Party on Monday released a list of 159 candidates to be voted for during the first three phases on February 10, 14 and 20.
The list leads with the name of party chief Akhilesh Yadav as aprty candidate from Karhal assembly constituency in Mainpuri district. While the list reiterates the name of sitting MLA Nahid Hasan from Kairana assembly constituency, party’s Rampur MP Azam Khan has been fielded from his pocket borough Rampur.
While Hassan is lodged in Shamli district jail in a case under Ganster Act , Azam has been languishing in Sitapur jail for about 23 months now in connection with a series of cases related to intimidation, extortion, land grabbing etc. At the same time, the party has again fielded Azam Khan’s son Abdullah Azam from Suar assembly segment in Rampur district. Abdullah’s election was declared null and void by Allahabad High Court in the previous assembly (2017) on the charges of forging age documents leveled against him.
However, this time SP, which has woven a bouquet of alliances with smaller OBC outfits to woo the non-Yadav OBC to its fold, has given largest chunk of 48 tickets (30 per cent) to non-Yadav OBC candidates of the 159 declared on Monday. Similarly, to wash off the allegation of favouring one caste, the party has seemingly reduced the quota of Yadavs in ticket distribution. Of 159 candidates
declared, only 15 (9.43) are Yadavs. However, the party has treaded cautiously in keeping the minority close to its ranks and has struck a balance with Dalits by giving both Muslims and SC candidates a respectable chunk of 31 (19.5%) and 29 (18.23%) seats of 159. Moreover, nine Brahmins and Baniyas each along with seven Thakurs have also been fielded.
On name that stands out in the SP list is that of Umar Ali, the son in law of Maulana Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi. Umar will contest from Behat on SP ticket.
The party has accommodated total 18 turncoats—7 from BP, 9 from BSP and 2 from Congress. The list of 159 comprises the name of Dharam Singh Saini, the former Yogi minister and sitting BJP MLAs who had followed the suit including Muskesh Verma from Shikohabad, Roshan Lal Verma from Tilhar. Dharam Singh Saini has been fielded from his traditional Nakur which was a bone of contention between him and the Congress bigwig Imran Masood who also contests from the same seat and had joined the SP recently anticipating a ticket from the same seat. However, Akhilesh preferred Saini and pacified Masood who was unhappy with the denial of ticket to him. Saini had defeated Masood in 2017 with a margin of around 4000 votes. Interestingly, former Yogi minister Swami Prasad Maurya, who defected to SP from BJP recently, failed to make a cut for his son Utkrisht from Unchahar, the seat he was seeking for him. SP has reposed faith in its sitting MLA Manoj Pandey from the seat.
Meanwhile, decision on two more seats – Bilhaur and Bidhuna—is yet to be taken as the sitting BJP MLAs of both the seats were part of the series of desertions led by Swami Prasad Maurya in mid-January.
The other name which stands out in the list is that of Shivpal Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav’s uncle and chief of Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia. Shivpal will be contesting from his traditional seat and Yadav family bastion Jaswantnagar assembly constituency in Etawah district on SP symbol.
An alliance partner of SP - Mahaan Dal – has also got a representation with its national president Keshav Dev Maurya’s son Chandra Prakash Maurya has got a ticket from Bilsi seat, However, the sitting BJP MLA RK Sharma who had joined SP recently has been accommodated in Aonla. Assembly polls in Uttar Pradesh will be held in seven phases between February 10 and March 7 and the results will be announced on March 10.