Uttar pradesh

Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections | BJP pauses rejuvenation exercise in U.P.

After the sudden exodus of OBC leaders from the BJP in Uttar Pradesh, the party seems to have put a pause on its rejuvenation exercise, political observers say.

After five rounds of intense scrutiny, the party has cut the ticket of 20 sitting MLAs in the first list announced on Saturday.

Only a few have been punished for non-performance and even fewer have been asked to rest in order to check the anti-incumbency and growing discontent in the region that saw the strongest impact of the farmers’ agitation. The party’s decision to retain most of the sitting MLAs from Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat and Shamli, the epicentre of protests against the farm laws, could indicate that the party doesn’t want one more section of OBC leaders to turn against it at the last minute.

Notably, in some districts, the party has brought in local heavyweights who had been nudged out in the past, perhaps to account for any dip in the popularity of the Modi-Yogi combination.

The focus seems to be on rewarding those who have joined the party recently, while maintaining the caste equation. So, a sitting Jat MLA has been replaced by a Jat candidate and a Thakur has been picked over a Thakur.

The decision to repose faith in Shrikant Sharma from Mathura, Sanjay Sharma in Anoopshahr, Rajendra Kumar Sahyogi in Iglas, Nand Kishore Gurjar in Loni and Sushil Sharma in Sahibabad, despite reports of resentment from the ground, has come as a surprise.

Out of 107 candidates announced for the first two phases of polls, the party has made the most changes in Agra and Bulandshahr districts. In Agra, five out of 10 sitting MLAs have been replaced while in Bulandshar district, four out of seven have been dropped.

In Fatehabad, Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha, a two-time Bahujan Samaj Party MLA has been picked over Jitendra Verma. Mr. Kushwaha joined the party in December. Similarly, in the Etmadpur seat, Dharampal Singh, a former BSP MLA has replaced Mahesh Goyal. A Thakur leader, Mr. Singh joined the Samajwadi Party six months ago and shifted to the BJP early this week. Three-time MLA Chhotelal Verma, who after a long stint with the BSP returned to the BJP, has been picked over Jitendra Verma for the Fatehabad seat.

Hemlata Diwakar has made way for the party vice-president Baby Rani Maurya in the Agra Rural seat. After a stint as the Uttarakhand Governor, Ms. Maurya has recently returned to active politics and is expected to be a prominent Dalit face of the party.

In Fatehpur Sikri, the BJP has brought in veteran Jat leader Chaudhary Babu Lal to replace Udaybhan Singh. A two-time MLA and MP, the 73-year-old has been pitched to take on the Rashtriya Lok Dal challenge in the region.

In neighbouring Mathura, Thakur Meghshyam Singh, who recently made a switch from the RLD, has been given a ticket from Goverdhan, replacing Karinda Singh.

In Aligarh’s Barauli seat, Thakur Dalveer Singh has been replaced by another Thakur strongman Jaiveer Singh.

The Kalyan Singh family’s confidant Anita Lodhi Rajput has been dropped from the Debai seat of Bulandshahr and has been replaced by another Lodhi leader C.B. Singh. In Khurja, Vijendra Singh has been dropped because of non-performance to make way for Meenakshi Singh, the prominent Mahila Morcha leader of the party who had been staking her claim for some time.

However, replacing Bimla Singh Solanki, the two-time MLA from Sikandrabad with another Thakur leader Lakshmiraj Singh has come as a surprise even for party workers in the region.

In Bulandshahr Sadar seat, Usha Sirohi has been dropped for a stronger Jat face Pradeep Chaudhary to take on the RLD challenge. Ms. Sirohi won the bypoll after the demise of party veteran Virendra Sirohi. Similarly, the party has replaced Sangeeta Chauhan, wife of late Chetan Chauhan, and sitting MLA from Naugawan Sadat seat in Amroha district. Observers said the party felt the sympathy factor had run its course and after the farmers’ agitation in the region, the party could not take a chance.

Kamal Malik from the Garh seat of Hapur district has been replaced by another Jat leader Harendra Tewatia who hails from Noorpur, the birthplace of Chaudhary Charan Singh.

In the Siwalkhas seat of Meerut district, Mahendra Pal Singh has been brought in to replace Jitendra Pal Singh. Both are Jat leaders but party insiders said the centre of the farmers’ agitation needed some fresh blood. Party veteran Satya Prakash Agarwal, three-time MLA from Meerut Cantoment, has been asked to rest as he has touched 80 years and has been replaced by former MLA Amit Agarwal.

For the Charthwal seat in Muzaffarnagar, the party has reposed faith in Sapna Kashyap, the wife of former minister Vijay Kashyap. Mr. Kashyap passed away from COVID-19 related complications during the second wave. In Meerapur, Avtar Singh Bhadana’s exit led the party to put faith in another Gurjar leader Prashant.

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Printable version | May 22, 2022 9:40:47 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/uttar-pradesh-assembly-elections-bjp-pauses-rejuvenation-exercise-in-up/article38276192.ece