Distribution of tickets for Uttar Pradesh assembly elections has started with BJP’s central election committee approving the names of 172 candidates, but the announcement was withheld because of Makar Sankranti. Among the names finalized are those of minister Shrikant Sharma from Mathura, Pankaj Singh from Noida, Sangeet Som from Sardhana and Suresh Rana from Muzaffarnagar. Samajwadi Party and Jayant Chaudhary’s Rashtriya Lok Dal, both allies, released their list of 29 candidates on Thursday evening. Meanwhile, two more BJP MLAs resigned. In the last three days, three ministers and 10 BJP MLAs have resigned. They have been assured tickets from Samajwadi Party.
The BJP has fielded former CM Late Kalyan Singh’s grandson Sandeep Singh from Atrauli, Sunil Bharala and Somendra Tomar from Meerut city and Meerut south seats, Dinesh Khatik from Hastinapur, Satyavir Tyagi from Kithaur, Amit Agrawal from Meerut Cantt, Mriganka Singh from Kairana and Tejendra Singh from Shamli, among several others.
BJP has given tickets to 11 Jat candidates so far, five Gurjar candidates and nine Thakurs. There are seven Brahmin candidates and four from Vaishya community. Tickets have been given to one each candidate from Nishad and Tyagi community. There are five candidates from Jatav and two from Valmiki community.
Out of the 29 candidates announced by Samajwadi Party, 19 seats have been given to RLD. These are from 11 districts of western UP which will go to polling in the first phase. Out of 29 candidates, nine are Muslim. These include sitting SP MLA Nahid Hasan from Kairana. Avtar Singh Bhadana who crossed over to SP from BJP has also been given a ticket. RLD has given Hapur ticket to Gajraj Singh, who quit to join Jayant Chaudhary’s party on Thursday.
Akhilesh Yadav’s strategy is clear. He wants to stop division of anti-BJP votes by accommodating all the major castes and communities in his list. In the last assembly elections, RLD failed to open its account, but this time, 19 seats have been given to this party. The aim is to consolidate Jat and Muslim vote banks this time. In the last elections, voters from Jat community voted en bloc for BJP, but this time, with the farmers’ movement, the situation appears to have changed.
In other words, Akhilesh Yadav has tried to infuse life in the RLD, by giving tickets to Jat candidates. Akhilesh Yadav is presently on a ‘mission’ to break the BJP in western UP. Samajwadi Party leaders are working on a strategy to bring in as many BJP leaders into their camp, by offering tickets. Among the three ministers and 10 MLAs who quit the BJP and joined SP, most of them are from backward classes, one is from Brahmin community and one Dalit leader.
On the other hand, BJP has countered by mobilizing other backward classes on a large scale. BJP has finalised its seat sharing deal with Nishad community leader Sanjay Nishad. He had demanded 18 seats for his community, but BJP has agreed to give him 10 to 12 seats, while in remaining seats, Nishad candidates may contest on BJP symbol.
The advantage BJP has this time is Yogi Adityanath’s connect with people cutting across caste lines. He has emerged as a doer for all. It’s Modi and Yogi combine that may matter more than the caste equations and individual candidates.
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