: Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh on Friday juggled his list of candidates for the next Lok Sabha election by replacing four names, including that of the former Rashtriya Lok Dal MP, Anuradha Chaudhary, who was nominated from Bijnor, and more importantly naming Havaldar Singh Yadav as the candidate from Azamgarh in eastern Uttar Pradesh, replacing Panchayati Raj Minister Balram Yadav.
In fact, some SP workers, said to be the supporters of Mr. Mulayam Singh’s younger son, Mr. Prateek Yadav, were demanding the Azamgarh ticket for him and had even staged a demonstration at the party headquarters here a few months ago. Mr. Havaldar Singh Yadav is said to be a close confidant of Mr. Balram Yadav, who had expressed his inability to contest the next Lok Sabha election.
The Yadav and Muslim dominated seat is held by Ramakant Yadav of the Bharatiya Janata Party.
Also dropped from the list of 74 candidates announced till now are Kirti Vardhan Singh, scion of the Mankapur family and son of Agriculture Minister Anand Singh; and Kajal Sharma, wife of the controversial SP MLA from Dibai in Bulandshahr district Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit.
Besides replacing the four candidates, Mr. Mulayam Singh Yadav has named Feroze Aftab and Nathuni Kushwaha as candidates from Saharanpur and Kushinagar
Mr. Kirti Vardhan Singh and Ms. Sharma were fielded from Gonda and Aligarh and have been replaced by Rahul Shukla and Zafar Alam respectively.
Ms. Chaudhary joined the SP in 2012 and was made its national general secretary. A former Irrigation Minister from Kairana, she has been given the ticket from Bijnor, which has 40 per cent population of Muslims. She has been replaced by Amir Alam Khan a former MP and former Minister.
Informed sources said the decision to replace Mr. Kirti Vardhan Singh and Ms. Sharma was based on the “feedback” gathered from MPs, MLAs and party workers about their winnability factor.
In Bijnor, it was felt that a Muslim candidate would be a better option given the size of the Muslim electorate. Incidentally, RLD’s Sanjay Singh Chauhan is the sitting MP from Bijnor.
Mr. Kirti Vardhan Singh was pitted against the sitting MP from Gonda, Union Steel Minister Beni Prasad Verma, who has emerged as a prominent Mulayam-baiter in the Congress camp.
The sources attributed Mr. Singh’s ouster to the infighting amongst the Thakur Ministers belonging to Gonda district – Agriculture Minister Anand Singh, Minister of State for Secondary Education, Vinod Kumar alias Pandit Singh and Minister of State for Basic Education, Yogesh Kumar Singh.
Mr. Rahul Shukla, a Brahmin and a political non-entity is the son of SP MLA from Mehnon, Nandita Shukla.
In Aligarh, it was the adverse reports from party leaders that cost Ms. Sharma the ticket.