Candidates finalised, over to campaign

BJP gives 59 per cent tickets to OBCs & SCs for the first two phases in UP and dropped 20 MLAs.
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath (Photo | PTI)
Uttar Pradesh CM Yogi Adityanath (Photo | PTI)

NEW DELHI: The Bharatiya Janata Party’s first list of 107 candidates, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from his traditional Gorakhpur constituency, unveiled the saffron outfits mega outreach to other backward castes and Scheduled Castes with nearly 59 per cent of the nominees for the initial two phases of polls hailing from the two categories.

The BJP also sent out a loud message that the party is unfazed by the desertion of big names from the Other Backward Class (OBC) ranks, denying elections tickets to 20 sitting MLAs, or one-fourth of the first list. Sixty-three sitting MLAs have been fielded again.

By nominating the chief minister from Gorakhpur, not Ayodhya as was widely speculated, the BJP top brass also put its stamp on the leadership of the Uttar Pradesh elections clear, tasking Adityanath to defend the eastern front for the party and reserving the temple pivot exclusively for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Gorakhpur Assembly seat is a saffron bastion, the party having won from there for decades.

While announcing the first list on Saturday, the union minister and the BJP’s election in-charge for UP, Dharmendra Pradhan, the BJP would contest the elections in alliance partners, the Apna Dal and the Nishad Party.

The party has withheld the name of one candidate for the first phase polls in 58 constituencies and 17 out of the 55 seats in the second phase.

Sticking with the strategy to give the BJP a big OBC makeover, the party fielded 44 candidates from the caste groups in the first list, besides 19 from the Scheduled Caste category. Prime Minister Narendra Modi had, incidentally, packed his Council of Ministers with 27 OBC leaders in the last expansion carried out by him.

Ten women candidates also a found place in the first list, which included former Uttarakhand governor Baby Rani Mourya from a constituency in Agra, where she had previously been a mayor.

The first list also included deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya from the Sirathu Assembly constituency in the Prayagraj district.

The BJP has affirmed its trust in Adityanath’s ministers, making it clear that the saffron outfit will be seeking a positive mandate for the Team Uttar Pradesh.

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The New Indian Express