Uttar pradesh

U.P. Assembly elections | SP fields candidate against Raja Bhaiya after 20 years

Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya. File

Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiya. File

Breaking a political trend, the Samajwadi Party has fielded a candidate in Kunda seat of Pratapgarh against Thakur strongman Raghuraj Pratap Singh, alias Raja Bhaiya, after two decades. The SP is contesting this seat after the relationship between Mr. Singh, a six-time Independent MLA, and SP president Akhilesh Yadav went downhill after the 2017 election.

In 2018, as he prepared to take on the BJP in the 2019 Lok Sabha election, Mr. Yadav had been left red–faced after Mr. Singh, till then considered a political ally, allegedly cross-voted in favour of the BJP in the Rajya Sabha poll. An outraged Mr. Yadav, under whose government Mr. Singh had enjoyed ministerial positions, called the MLA a “liar” and “a dhamkidar ” (intimidator) and said the SP had shut its doors on him forever.

In the 2007, 2012 and 2017 elections, Mr. Singh did not face any candidate from the SP, winning comfortably. While it is still a daunting task to challenge him in Kunda, considered his fiefdom, the SP’s move to field Gulshan Yadav, a former nagar panchayat chairman and former aide of Mr. Singh, against him could alter certain equations in the constituency.

The last time the SP fielded a candidate against Mr. Singh was in 2002. While Mr. Singh secured a massive 82% votes (88,446), the SP stood second with a paltry 6,788.

In 2017, when the BJP and its allies secured 325 of the 403 seats in U.P., Mr. Singh and his close aide Vinod Saroj won their seats Kunda and Babaganj in Pratapgarh as Independents.

Oncelabelled as “Kunda kagoonda ” by opponents, Mr. Singh had enjoyed the goodwill of the SP and the BJP in the form of ministerial positions under the governments ofKalyanSingh, RamPrakashGupta,RajnathSingh,MulayamSinghandAkhileshYadav, despite being an Independent legislator.

During the government headed byAkhileshYadav, he had to resign from the Cabinet in thewake of allegations linking him to the murder of DSP Zia-ul-Haquein 2013. However, he was soon re-inducted after the CBI gave him a clean chit. Interestingly, Mr. Gulshan Yadav’s name had also surfaced in connection with the case.

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Printable version | May 24, 2022 9:27:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/sp-fields-candidate-against-raja-bhaiya-after-20-years/article38330506.ece