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UP elections 2017: Allies SP and Congress face off in 14 seats

In Amethi, Rae Bareli and western UP, seats where both Congress and Samajwadi Party candidates have filed nominations, or are set to.

Written by Maulshree Seth | Lucknow |
February 7, 2017 2:15:48 am
uttar pradesh elections, akhilesh yadav, rahul gandhi, akhilesh rahul alliance, congress sp alliance, samajwadi party, amethi seats, rae bareli seats, congress campaign, sp campaign, indian express news, india news, elections updates Amethi is one of four seats in that neighbourhood witnessing a face-off between the Congress and the SP.

“No matter what, Ameeta will contest from Amethi,” says Sanjay Sinh, husband of the candidate he is describing. “She will file her nomination on February 9.”

Sanjay Sinh, a Rajya Sabha MP, is in-charge of the Congress’s campaign committee in UP. The Congress’s new ally, the Samajwadi Party, too wants to contest Amethi but the Sinhs are in no mood to surrender the seat. The SP has renominated its sitting MLA, minister Gayatri Prajapati, who had defeated Ameeta, a former MLA from that seat, by 9,000 votes in 2012.

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Amethi is one of four seats in that neighbourhood witnessing a face-off between the Congress and the SP. In Gauriganj, also part of Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, the district Congress met Monday to finalise the nomination of Mohd Naeem. This when sitting SP MLA Rakesh Pratap Singh has already filed his nomination. Last time, Singh had defeated Naeem by merely 500 votes.

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“Mohd Naeem will file his nomination from Gauriganj,” said Deepak Singh, Congress MLC, who was part of Monday’s meeting at the party’s Gauriganj headquarters.

The SP has declared candidates in five of the 10 seats in Amethi and Rae Bareli, the Congress in seven. Both have candidates in Sareni and Salon, with Amethi and Gauriganj set to join that list.

Such confrontation is not isolated to these segments of Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituencies, where polling takes place in the fourth and fifth phases of the elections on February 23 and 27. Of the 169 seats that go to polls in the first three phases, nominations for which have closed, at least 10 have SP and Congress candidates facing off.

In about 15 of these 169 seats, both parties had gave their symbol to candidates initially. Over time, one party or the other has been able to convince its candidates to withdraw but that has been limited to a few seats, such as Sayana, Hargaon and Khair.

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In Gangoh, where Rahul recently addressed a public meeting, the SP could not convince its candidate, Inder Sain, and expelled him for six years. The Congress candidate here is Nauman Masood, 46, the brother of Imran Masood who is best remembered for a hate speech against Narendra Modi during the Lok Sabha polls.

“We did not want to take this step against Inder Sain, who is a son of former MP Chaudhary Yashpal Singh,” says Jagpal Das Gujar, SP district president in Saharanpur. “But we were forced to. He did not withdraw despite repeatedly being asked to do so by the senior party leadership.”

The Congress, meanwhile, has apparently convinced Pramod Kumar Jaiswal, younger brother of Sriprakash Jaiswal, to opt out of Arya Nagar where the SP candidate is Amitabh Bajpai. The last date of withdrawal, however, is over.

The 10 sites of confrontation include Lucknow Central, were Rahul and Akhilesh Yadav had addressed a joint roadshow. The Congress has fielded Maroof Khan and the SP its sitting MLA Ravidas Mehrotra, a minister. Ironically, both candidates are seeking votes in the name of “Rahul and Akhilesh”. Asked about the contradiction, Khan says, “As a Congress candidate I might be contesting against Ravidas but both Rahul and Akhilesh are leaders of this alliance. My plea to the voters is, ‘Let the better candidate win’.”

In Maharajpur, former Congress MP Rajaram Pal is contesting against the SP’s Aruna Tomar. In Zaidpur, Congress Rajya Sabha member P L Punia’s son Tanuj has filed his nomination against the SP’s Ram Gopal. Other such seats are Baldev, Koil, Purqazi, Chandpur, Govindnagar, Kanpur Cantonment and Bhognipur.

“These issues are being settled. There will not be any candidate from either party against one from the other,” asserts Rajendra Chaudhary, SP chief spokesperson. “The party will ask its candidates to withdraw wherever an agreement has been reached. Those who don’t do so will be expelled.” Asked about Amethi where the Congress’s Sinhs have refused to relent, Chaudhary says, “No, we are not going to withdraw Gayatri’s candidature, that’s for certain.”

Congress senior spokesperson Satya Dev Tripathi, head of the party’s think tank committee for the polls, is hopeful. “An agreement will be reached on these seats in a day or two. Though the last date of nomination is over, Pramod Jaiswal has given a public statement that he is not in the contest in Arya Nagar,” he says. “Some agreement will be reached on the other seats too.”

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