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regular-article-logo Tuesday, 16 April 2024

Samajwadi Party confident against BJP in 'at least 20' Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh

The SP, which won only five Lok Sabha seats from the state in 2019, has announced 30 nominees till now and is selecting more candidates who can 'defeat the BJP', sources said

Piyush Srivastava Lucknow Published 04.03.24, 05:56 AM
Akhilesh Yadav.

Akhilesh Yadav. File picture

The Samajwadi Party fancies its chances against the BJP in at least 20 of the 51 Lok Sabha seats in Uttar Pradesh for which the saffron party has announced its nominees so far.

The SP, which won only five Lok Sabha seats from the state in 2019, has announced 30 nominees till now and is selecting more candidates who can “defeat the BJP”, sources said.

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The SP has fielded Ram Prasad Chaudhary from Basti against sitting BJP member Harish Dwivedi. Chaudhary had represented the Bahujan Samaj Party in 2019, losing to Dwivedi by 30,000 votes — a margin the SP hopes to overturn.

The SP and the BSP had contested the last Lok Sabha elections together but failed to transfer their votes to each other. Local people claim that Dwivedi has been inaccessible since becoming MP while Chaudhary has stayed in touch.

Lucknow will see defence minister and sitting MP Rajnath Singh, accused of failing to accord time to his voters, take on Ravidas Mehrotra, the SP’s sitting MLA from Lucknow Central.

Union minister Sanjeev Balyan, seeking re-election from Muzaffarnagar, faces the SP’s Harendra Singh Malik, who won four Assembly elections from Khatauli and Baghra in the district, between 1985 and 1993, on Congress and BJP tickets.

While his ministerial work has kept Balyan busy in Delhi, the Malik family has been reaching out to the voters. The Malik sub-caste accounts for over 20 per cent of the district’s Jat population while the Balyan sub-caste makes up 10 per cent.

In Etah, the SP’s Devesh Shakya will take on Rajveer Singh, sitting MP from the BJP and son of former chief minister Kalyan Singh.

Defeated in 2014 and 2019 from Etah, the SP dropped Devendra Singh Yadav whose caste population is half that of Rajveer’s Lodhs. According to an SP survey, Shakyas and Muslims make up over half of Etah’s population.

Sakshi Maharaj, second-time BJP Lok Sabha member from Unnao, faces Anu Tandon, who won the seat in 2009 on a Congress ticket. She later joined the SP hoping to gain its Yadav-Muslim votes.

While Sakshi, a self-styled sadhu, banks on Hindutva to win elections, Tandon’s network of workers has continued her voter outreach despite her 2019 defeat.

“We believe that Rae Bareli, Amethi, Azamgarh and Kannauj will be no-contests if Priyanka Gandhi, Rahul Gandhi, Akhilesh Yadav and Dimple Yadav, respectively, contest from there,” Mehrotra, the SP candidate against Rajnath, told The Telegraph.

“Besides these four, there are 20 parliamentary constituencies including Faizabad, Gonda, Etawah and Farrukhabad where winning won’t be difficult if we continue our public contact programmes,” Mehrotra said.

Outgoing Rae Bareli MP Sonia Gandhi has shifted to the Rajya Sabha, and the local Congress has sought Priyanka as her replacement. Akhilesh won from Azamgarh in 2019 but resigned in 2022 to stay in state politics. His cousin Dharmendra Yadav lost to the BJP’s Dinesh Lal in the by-election by only about 8,000 votes.

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