Adityanath in BJP's first list for UP polls, fielded from home turf Gorakhpur; 44 OBC names among 107 candidates

PTI | New Delhi | Updated: 15-01-2022 21:15 IST | Created: 15-01-2022 21:13 IST
Adityanath in BJP's first list for UP polls, fielded from home turf Gorakhpur; 44 OBC names among 107 candidates
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. (Photo/ANI) Image Credit: ANI
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The BJP on Saturday fielded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur Urban seat for the Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, a decision that put to rest speculation he may contest from Ayodhya, as the five-time Lok Sabha MP enters the state poll fray for the first time from his home turf.

Releasing its first list of 107 candidates in which it aims to counter rivals' OBC pitch after the Samajwadi Party(SP) accused it of being anti-backward castes, the Bharatiya Janata Party(BJP) also chose Keshav Prasad Maurya, one of the two deputy chief ministers, from his birthplace Sirathu in Kaushambi district.

Adityanath, the 49-year-old priest-turned-politician and a Hindutva poster boy, expressed confidence that the BJP would return to power in the state with an ''overwhelming majority'' in the seven-phase elections.

While Gorakhpur Urban seat will go to vote in the sixth phase on March 3, Sirathu figures in the fifth phase on February 27. Sitting BJP legislators--four-time MLA Radha Mohan Das Agarwal and Sheetla Prasad--have made way for Adityanath and Maurya respectively.

Except for Adityanath and Maurya, all the names are for 105 of the 113 seats which will go to the polls in the first two phases on February 10 and 14.

As many as 44 OBC names, including 16 Jats, figure in the list followed by 43 from upper castes and 19 from Scheduled Castes, sources said, with Union minister Dharmendra Pradhan, who is the BJP's in-charge for the state polls, emphasising that his party has fielded Dalits from unreserved seats as well. The OBC and SC candidates in all account for 60 per cent of those chosen in the first list.

Among the 43 upper castes candidates, 18 Thakurs and 10 Brahmins figure in the list, followed by eight from the trading classes.

While there is no official word from the BJP on the Ayodhya seat speculation, its decision to not field Adityanath from the temple town but from Gorakhpur may have something to do with the ruling party's caution against its rivals' efforts to define the polls as a battle between 'mandal'(pro-backward castes politics )and 'kamandal'(Hindutva politics). Construction of a Ram temple in Ayodhya is underway in full swing.

Pradhan told reporters in Delhi that the party decided to put the chief minister in the fray from Gorakhpur, his traditional political turf which he has represented in the Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms.

Asked about the issue, Pradhan said the chief minister was willing to contest from any of the 403 seats in the state. This is the first time Adityanath, who is now an MLC, will contest Assembly polls.

Pradhan said the list has 63 sitting MLAs, including ministers like Suresh Khanna(Shahjahanpur), Suresh Rana(Thana Bhawan in Shamli) and Shrikant Sharma(Mathura), while 20 have made way for others.

Former Uttarakhand governor and now BJP vice-president Baby Rani Maurya, a Dalit, has been fielded from Agra (rural). Pankaj Singh, the son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will again contest from Noida seat. Sitting BJP MLA Sangeet Som, who has often courted controversy for his provocative statements, has been given ticket from Sardhana in Meerut.

Adityanath thanked the BJP leadership for choosing him as the candidate from the Gorakhpur Urban seat.

''I express thanks to the Prime Minister, national president and BJP Parliamentary Board who decided to field me from Gorakhpur Urban seat in the current assembly elections," Adityanath told reporters in his first reaction after the declaration of his name.

"With the help of party workers and present and past representatives, the BJP will win not only in Gorakhpur but in the entire state and form its government again with an overwhelming majority.'' In the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP had won a massive 312 seats in the 403-member House.

It is before everybody as to how the BJP has worked effectively on the issues of nationalism, development and good governance, he said, adding the BJP will once again form its government in the state with its core mantra of ''Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas''.

SP chief Akhilesh Yadav took a jibe at the BJP's decision to field Adityanath from the Gorakhpur constituency, saying the saffron party has already sent him home. Gorakhpur is the home town of Adityanath.

''As far as contesting elections is concerned, earlier it was said that he (Adityanath) will contest from Mathura, Prayagraj, Ayodhya or Deoband. I am happy that the BJP has already sent him home (Gorakhpur)," Yadav, a former chief minister, told reporters in Lucknow.

"Although he is in Gorakhpur, he had a ticket dated March 11 (counting of votes on March 10) booked for it earlier. I think that he should stay back in Gorakhpur and there is no need for him to return (to Lucknow). Heartiest congratulations,'' Yadav said.

The SP chief further said no MLAs or ministers quitting the BJP will be taken into his party anymore.

As several leaders from the BJP shifted allegiance to the SP saying it worked for the Dalits and backward classes, Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) supremo Mayawati pooh-poohed the claim, saying the party's past record shows its ''anti-Dalit'' approach.

Mayawati also clarified that she would not contest the Assembly elections, but take the legislative council route, if her party is voted to power.

Addressing a press conference in Lucknow on her 66th birthday, she announced names of 53 BSP candidates for constituencies that would go to the polls in the first phase on February 10.

The former chief minister also dismissed remarks that discount her party out of the poll race, saying the BSP will spring a surprise akin to 2007.

With the Jat-concentrated region going to the polls in the first two phases, the agrarian community, which was at the forefront of the agitation in western Uttar Pradesh against the three contentious farm laws, has got 16 seats in the BJP's first list, sources said.

Of the 43 seats from where general castes members have been fielded by the BJP, sources noted that 18 are Thakurs, 10 Brahmins and eight from the Vaishya community.

Among the 19 SC candidates in the BJP's first list, 13 are Jatavs, who make up for more than half of the total Dalit population.

The move is seen as a major push by the party to win the support of a section of the community which has been a traditional base of the BSP.

Some of the seats where polling will be held in the first two phases and for which the BJP did not name its candidates on Saturday will go to the allies.

The current ministers who figured in the list are Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary (Chhata in Mathura), Suresh Rana (Thana Bhavan in Shamli), Shrikant Sharma (Mathura), Suresh Khanna (Shahjahanpur), Kapildev Aggarwal (Muzaffarnagar), Atul Garg (Ghaziabad), Anil Sharma (Shikarpur in Bulandshahr), Sandeep Singh (Atrauli in Aligarh), GS Dharmesh (Agra Cantt), Gulabo Devi (Chandausi in Sambhal), Baldev Singh Aulakh (Bilaspur in Rampur) and Mahesh Gupta (Budaun).

The alliance of the Rashtriya Lok Dal(RLD) and the SP also announced its second list of seven candidates. All seven candidates announced are members of the Jayant Chaudhary-led RLD, according to the list shared by the party on social media.

On Thursday, it had announced its first list of 29 candidates of which 10 belonged to the SP and 19 to the RLD.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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