The Samajwadi Party on Tuesday announced the names of 39 candidates for the upcoming Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections which include former minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati’s wife Maharaji Devi who has been fielded from Amethi.
Prajapati and two others were sentenced to life imprisonment by a special court in November last year in a 2017 rape case. Prajapati, who was the mining minister from 2013 to 2016 and later held the transport portfolio, was arrested on March 15, 2017, and has been in jail since then. Prajapati had won the seat in 2012 but lost in 2017 to BJP’s Garima Singh.
This comes amid repeated attacks from the BJP that has accused the Samajwadi Party of having in its ranks leaders with criminal records. The ruling party’s targets have been leaders such as Azam Khan, Abdullah and Nahid Hasan, who is a two-time Kairana MLA.
The party has also fielded Gulshan Yadav from Kunda from where Raghuraj Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhaiyya is an Independent sitting MLA since 1991. Singh is said to be close to Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav but he failed to cut the ice with party chief Akhilesh Yadav after he entered into an alliance with the BSP in the Rajya Sabha elections.
The party has fielded BSP rebel Hakim Chandra Bind from Handia, Prayagraj, and BJP rebel Madhuri Verma from Nanpara in Bahraich. Both are sitting MLAs.
In Ayodhya, the SP fielded Tej Narayan Pandey alias Pawan Pandey, who ended the BJP’s long streak in the constituency in 2012 but lost in 2017. Pandey was also a Minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government and has been vocal over the alleged corruption in the purchase of land for the Ram Mandir.
This was the SP’s third list. On Monday, the party had announced the names of 159 candidates, including party president Akhilesh Yadav (Karhal), jailed MP Azam Khan (Rampur), his son Abdullah Azam Khan (Suar), and Akhilesh’s uncle Shivpal Yadav (Jaswantnagar). On January 13, the SP-RLD alliance had announced the first set of 29 candidates for western UP seats. The RLD was allocated 19 of those seats.
On Sunday, the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) led by Om Prakash Rajbhar, another ally, had announced the first candidate for the SP-led alliance in eastern UP. The party has fielded Sunil Arskvanshi from the Sandila seat in Hardoi district.