Uttar pradesh

Akhilesh trying to build a strong caste alliance

The Akhilesh Yadav-led party has built a most formidable caste alliance in the region to challenge the BJP.

The Akhilesh Yadav-led party has built a most formidable caste alliance in the region to challenge the BJP.

The Samajwadi Party is banking on regional heavyweights across the board —from the OBC communities to the upper caste Brahmins — many of them BSP turncoats in its latest list of 56 candidates for eastern Uttar Pradesh. The Akhilesh Yadav-led party has built a most formidable caste alliance in the region to challenge the BJP.

At the centre of these efforts are Azamgarh and Ambedkar Nagar districts.

In Azamgarh, where the SP won five out of 10 seats in 2017, the party has retained four sitting MLAs, — veteran legislator Alam Badi, Sangram Yadav, Nafees Ahmad and Durga Prasad Yadav. Three other candidates from the district are former Lok Sabha MP and Yadav strongman Ramakant Yadav, who is contesting from Phulpur Powai; Kamlakant Rajbhar, son of former BSP leader and Speaker of the U.P. Assembly late Sukhdev Rajbhar from Didarganj, and Bechai Saroj, former MLA, repeated for Lalganj. Nominees for three other seats are yet to be announced.

In neighbouring Ambedkar Nagar, a traditional BSP bastion, the SP has an equally solid line-up of candidates: senior OBC leaders and sitting MLAs Lalji Verma in Katehari and Ram Achal Rajbhar in Akbarpur; senior Jatav leader and former MP Tribhuvan Dutt in Alapur and Rakesh Pandey, father of BSP MP Ritesh Pandey, from Jalalpur. Mr. Verma, Mr. Rajbhar and Mr. Dutt have had a long association with the BSP before they switched to the SP to boost its outreach among the non-Yadav castes. Mr. Pandey’s son Ritesh was the MLA from Jalalpur before he contested the 2019 Lok Sabha and became an MP. The senior Mr Pandey is also a former MP and a prominent Brahmin face in the region.

In Ghosi in Mau, the SP has fielded Dara Singh Chauhan, who quit as cabinet minister recently. Mr. Chauhan, a BSP leader, had switched to the BJP in 2017 and contested from Madhuban, before moving to the SP recently.

In Gorakhpur, the bastion of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, the SP has named candidates on seven seats. These include Vinay Shankar Tiwari, the sitting BSP MLA from Chillupar and son of Brahmin strongman Hari Shankar Tiwari, who is often considered a challenger to Mr. Adityanath.By roping in the Tiwari family in the campaign against the Chief Minister, the SP hopes to exploit the tussle between Thakurs and Brahmins in the pilgrimage town and adjoining areas, since Mr. Adityanath was born into a Kshatriya family. The SP is, however, yet to name a candidate to take on Mr. Adityanath in Gorakhpur Sadar.

The SP’s fresh list also includes Kajal Nishad, the Bhojpuri actress, who will contest from Campiyarganj in Gorakhpur while Amrendra Nishad, the son of Nishad stalwart Jamuna Prasad Nishad, has been fielded again from Pipraich in the same district. Nishads and other riverine castes form a sizeable community in the State.

Former U.P. Assembly Speaker Mata Prasad Pandey will contest from Itwa in Siddharthnagar, while another Brahmin leader Brahma Shankar Tripathi will fight from Pathardeva in Deoria. Both are expected to take on incumbent ministers in the U.P. government.

Former MP Daud Ahmad (Mohammadi in Lakhimpur Kheri), former BSP MLA Puja Pal (Chail in Kausambhi), sitting BSP MLA from Prayagraj Murtaza Siddiqui, Rakesh Verma (Kursi in Barabanki), the son of senior Kurmi leader Beni Prasad Verma who died last year, former MP Tufani Saroj (Kerakat in Jaunpur) and Yadav heavyweights Shailendra Yadav Lalai (Shahganj) and Ramgovind Chaudhary (Ballia), the leader of the Opposition also figure in the latest list. Former minister Om Prakash Singh will contest from Zamania in Ghazipur.

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Printable version | May 17, 2022 8:11:22 am | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/akhilesh-trying-to-build-a-strong-caste-alliance/article38334739.ece