SP, BJP-ally choice of candidate in Suar bypolls hints at attempt of expanding base

While the SP fielded a Hindu candidate, the BJP-ally gave ticket to Pasmanda Muslim

Updated - September 27, 2023 10:41 am IST

Published - April 21, 2023 10:38 pm IST - Lucknow

NDA Suar bypoll candidate Shafiq Ahmed Ansari. Photo: Twitter/@ApnaDalOfficial

NDA Suar bypoll candidate Shafiq Ahmed Ansari. Photo: Twitter/@ApnaDalOfficial

The two main political coalitions in Uttar Pradesh fielded relatively new candidates for the Suar Vidhan Sabha byelection in Rampur, to be held on May 10, with the Samajwadi Party (SP) giving ticket to Anuradha Chauhan, while the BJP left the seat to the Apna Dal (Sonelal) which fielded Shafiq Ahmed Ansari, a Pasmanda Muslim. The poll was necessitated due to the conviction of Abadullah Azam, the son of SP’s Muslim face Azam Khan.

In the Chhanbey Vidhan Sabha seat, for which the election is taking place due to the demise of Apna Dal (Sonelal) MLA Rahul Prakash Kol, the ruling BJP left the seat to its smaller alliance partner. The Apna Dal (Sonelal) fielded Rinke Kol, wife of late Rahul Prakash Kol while the SP fielded Kirti Kol.

The decision of the saffron party to leave Suar to its ally also hints that the ruling party is focusing on urban body polls in Uttar Pradesh. In the recent Rampur Assembly bypoll, necessitated due to disqualification of Azam Khan, the party deputed a battery of leaders with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath campaigning on the seat. “On both seats last time also the Apna Dal fought, so it is natural they have been given the opportunity to contest again,” said Dinesh Dubey, a senior BJP leader.

The Apna Dal (Sonelal) candidate from the Pasmanda Muslim, sub-group, is considered another attempt of reaching out to this backward but majority group within the Muslims. In 2022, the Apna Dal nominated Haider Ali Khan, who hails from affluent family for the seat. “The motto of NDA is to give representation to every section of society,” adds Mr. Dubey.

On the day of nomination for both seats, the senior leaders of the Apna Dal (Sonelal) were present with local BJP leaders and MLAs, but top State BJP leadership were not in attendance. Union Minister Anupriya Patel was herself present in the nomination on Chhanbey seat.

The candidature of Ms. Chauhan from Suar, a Muslim community-dominated seat points towards the SP attempting new social calculus trying to get a section of Hindu votes. “It shows our inclusive politics, as on such Assembly segment having high minority population, we fielded a Hindu candidate,” said Ameeque Jamei, national spokesperson of the SP.

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