Party fields a number of former and existing MLAs and MPs

With its eyes set on reviving electoral prospects in the crucial State of Uttar Pradesh, the Bharatiya Janata Party has entrusted faith on 'experience' by fielding a substantial number of former and existing MLAs and MPs. Of the 53 candidates released by the party for UP late on Saturday, there are 10 sitting MLAs, 8 former MLAs and 4 former MPs. The list includes the Muzaffarnagar riot accused MLA Hukum Singh, who has been fielded from Kairana, while former Mumbai police commissioner Satyapal Singh will take on RLD chief Ajit Singh in Baghpat. The party is still to take a decision on candidates in the crucial seats of Ghaziabad and Allahabad.

“To further solidify our position in west UP we are to finalising a candidate for Ghaziabad,” said UP BJP president Laxmikant Bajpai. The strategy of the BJP, party leaders say, was to equally distribute “big names” across the landscape of the State, which sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha. A senior party leader said that while the party expects a rippling impact of Mr. Modi's presence in Varanasi across east UP and adjoining seats of MP and Bihar, they “were not taking any chances” with other areas.

The party managed to secure only 10 seats in UP in the last two elections. “In other states, we can afford to make small gains but in UP we have to make the jump. We want all areas to be covered lest we fall short of a few seats. You can see the pattern, each big leader is obviously expected to impact 6-7 adjoining seats,” the leader said.

While Hinduvta firebrand Uma Bharti will test her luck from Jhansi in Bundelkhand, senior leader Kalraj Mishra, who was eyeing Kanpur, will contest from Deoria on the extreme end in east UP. The party hopes that Murli Manohar Joshi (Kanpur) and party president Rajnath Singh (Lucknow) will have an impact on other seats in Central UP. Significantly, for the BJP which hopes to replicate its 1998 performance in UP when it secured 57 seats, this list includes many OBC faces.

Recent defectors from other parties have also been awarded tickets. Former BSP minister Ashok Dohre who joined the BJP recently is fielded from Etawah and BSP Rajya Sabha MP S.P Singh Baghel will contest from Firozabad. Mr. Baghel is a former three-time Lok Sabha member with the SP and a prominent OBC face. Dharmendra Kashyap, the SP MLA who lost to Maneka Gandhi in 2009 from Aonla, will contest from the same seat on a BJP ticket. Former Malihabad MLA Kaushal Kishore will fight from Mohanlalganj while former BSP MP Rajesh Verma will contest from Sitapur. The posterboy of the Ram Janmabhoomi movement Kalyan Singh's Singh Rajveer Singh will contest from Etah, which was held by his father.