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Grudge fights in fourth phase of U.P. elections

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TAKING THE PLUNGE: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh addressing a rally in Lucknow on Wednesday after filing his nomination papers from Gunnaur in Badaun district.
TAKING THE PLUNGE: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh addressing a rally in Lucknow on Wednesday after filing his nomination papers from Gunnaur in Badaun district.

Atiq Khan

In 12 constituencies, it will be Mulayam versus Beni Prasad

  • The constituencies are in Barabanki and Bahraich districts
  • War of attrition has snowballed into grudge fight

    LUCKNOW: A grudge fight between Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh and rebel Samajwadi Party MP Beni Prasad Verma is likely in a dozen of the 57 Assembly constituencies going to the polls in the fourth phase on April 23.

    The notification for filing nominations for this phase, in the constituencies spread across the districts of Lakhimpur Kheri, Sitapur, Barabanki, Bahraich, Gonda, Basti, Siddhartnagar and Balrampur, was issued on Wednesday.

    Ever since he formed the Samajwadi Kranti Dal (SKD), Mr. Verma has refused to relent despite his one-to-one talks with the Chief Minister. The confrontation snowballed after the murder of Mr. Verma's close aide Ram Bhulan Verma, and the alleged favourable treatment given by the Chief Minister to the rebel MP's bete noire, Labour Minister Waquar Ahmed Shah. The war of attrition manifests in a Mulayam versus Beni contest in at least a dozen constituencies in Barabanki and Bahraich districts, which are said to be Mr. Verma's pocket boroughs.

    The first sign of the grudge contest was evident from Mr. Verma's son, Rakesh Verma, withdrawing himself from the list of the SP candidates. A Cabinet Minister in the Mulayam Government, he was re-nominated by the Chief Minister in Masauli in Barabanki district. Two days after his re-nomiation, Mr. Rakesh Verma announced his candidature from the same constituency as an SKD nominee.

    Another close associate of Mr. Verma, Dilip Verma, was renominated in Mahsi in Bahraich district, but he has chosen to contest on SKD ticket. The Bahraich constituency, where the Labour Minister is the sitting Samajwadi MLA, could witness an interesting contest. Here Mr. Verma pitted Reshma Arif against Mr. Shah. Ms. Arif is the wife of the former Union Minister and Bharatiya Janata Party leader, Arif Mohammad Khan. At a press conference in Barabanki on Tuesday, the rebel MP announced that Mr. Khan would be the SKD candidate from Kaiserganj in the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.

    In the 2004 parliamentary elections, Mr. Verma won from Kaiserganj, defeating Mr. Khan.

    Mr. Verma later went on to woo Mr. Shah's son, Yavar Shah , who was promptly given SKD ticket to contest from the Fakharpur constituency in Bahraich district against the SP candidate and sitting MLA, Arun Veer Singh.

    Apart from these key constituencies the Mulayam versus Beni fight will impact upon the outcome of the polls in Daryabad, Nawabganj, Ramnagar, Fatehpur (Reserved), Kaiserganj, Nanpara, Charda (Reserved), Bhinga and Ikauna Assembly constituencies. Though Mr. Verma's rebellion has not gone down well with the Chief Minister he escaped disciplinary action.

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