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SP, SBSP ‘together in fight’ for Dalits, OBCs; but silent on poll pact

SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav and SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar on Wednesday said that they are together in their fights for the Dalits other weaker sections of the society but did not specify if they have forged any pre-poll alliance.

The presidents of the two parties made the announcement separately after their meeting which the SBSP supremo Rajbhar described as a courtesy call.

“The Samajwadi Party and Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party will fight together the battle of the deprived, oppressed, backwards, Dalits, women, farmers, youths and other weaker sections of the society,” the Samajwadi Party said in a tweet in Hindi.

“The SP and SBSP have come together. No there will be no BJP. This time the BJP is out,” the tweet, carrying pictures of Akhilesh Yadav and Rajbhar meeting, said.

The tweets, however, did not mention if the two parties will fight the upcoming state assembly polls together and what pre-poll understandings, if any, have been reached.

Coming barely months before the UP assembly elections, the meeting itself, however, assumes significance.

Having four MLAs in the present UP House, Rajbhar’s party holds influence in over a dozen districts in UP’s Poorvanchal region.

SBSP chief Rajbhar, in his tweet, said that “the SP and SBSP have come together.”

He, however, added that his meeting with Akhilesh Yadav was a “courtesy meeting”.

“SP and SBSP have come together. The BJP government which ditched Dalits, backwards, minorities and other sections, are left with only last few days,” he said.

“Had a courtesy meeting with former CM Akhilesh Yadav,” he added in his tweet in Hindi.

The BJP had forged a poll alliance with the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party in the 2017 UP assembly elections.

SBSP chief Rajbhar was even made a minister in the state government but he resigned later before the 2019 polls.

Rajbhar had recently constituted a “Bhagidari Morcha”, a “participatory political front” with Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and some other outfits.

Rajbhar’s meeting with state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh recently had triggered speculation that he might go with it again.

Tough both the SP and SBSP announced through Twitter that they are together, none of their leaders clearly said if they will contest elections together.

“Our president Akhilesh Yadav Ji will decide seat- sharing, if any. We both are together,” a senior SP leader said.

SBSP leader Arun Rajbhar said, “His party is with the SP and the understanding on the number of seats will be decided soon.”

The SBSP has planned a rally in Mau on October 27 after which things will be clearer, a senior SBSP leader said

“SP and SBSP have come together. The BJP government which ditched Dalits, backwards, minorities and other sections, are left with only last few days,” he said.

“Had a courtesy meeting with former CM Akhilesh Yadav,” he added in his tweet in Hindi.

The BJP had forged a poll alliance with the Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party in the 2017 UP assembly elections.

SBSP chief Rajbhar was even made a minister in the state government but he resigned later before the 2019 polls.

Rajbhar had recently constituted a “Bhagidari Morcha”, a “participatory political front” with Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM and some other outfits.

Rajbhar’s meeting with state BJP president Swatantra Dev Singh recently had triggered speculation that he might go with it again.

Tough both the SP and SBSP announced through Twitter that they are together, none of their leaders clearly said if they will contest elections together.

“Our president Akhilesh Yadav Ji will decide seat- sharing, if any. We both are together,” a senior SP leader said.

SBSP leader Arun Rajbhar said, “His party is with the SP and the understanding on the number of seats will be decided soon.”

The SBSP has planned a rally in Mau on October 27 after which things will be clearer, a senior SBSP leader said.

AAP to contest all seats in Uttar Pradesh polls, not in alliance talks, says Sanjay Singh

Asserting that Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) would contest all 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, senior leader Sanjay Singh has said it would be a mistake to consider AAP a minnow as it had emerged “stronger” than the Congress in the recent panchayat polls.

The Arvind Kejriwal-led AAP made it clear that it is not in talks with any other party for an alliance in the UP assembly election due early next year.

“Our party is stronger than the Congress in the state. While the Congress won 40 seats in panchayat polls, we scored a victory in 83panchayats. AAP got over 40 lakh votes in these polls, where 1600 party candidates contested,” Singh, who is AAP’s UP incharge, told PTI in an interview.

The Congress was reduced to seven seats in the 2017 election to the 403-member UP Assembly.

The AAP had earlier tested poll waters in the 2014 and 2019 Parliamentary elections on some selected seats in UP without any success.

After coming to power in Delhi, it emerged as the main opposition party in Punjab and has been trying to expand its base in other states like Goa, Uttarakhand and Gujarat.

Delhi Chief Minister Kejriwal had himself contested against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi in 2014 and stood second ahead of the Congress and the Samajwadi party nominees.

AAP had also contested three seats of Saharanpur, Aligarh and Gautam Budh Nagar in UP but could not do much.

“We are preparing to contest on all 403 seats alone. We are presently not in talks for an alliance with any other party. Our focus is to strengthen our base in the state and in the past one and a half months, we have made over one crore members,” Singh said.

“The party has made Vidhan Sabha incharges in 100-150 seats and our leaders are meeting those who want to contest,” said 49-year-old Singh who hails from Sultanpur in Uttar Pradesh.

Singh, who is a Rajya Sabha MP, said the main issue to be raised by the AAP in the assembly elections “will be BJP’s nationalism versus AAP’s nationalism”.

“BJP’s nationalism is fake. Its nationalism is full of hatred and communalism. At the same time, the nationalism of the AAP is providing good education, good health, free electricity,free water, women’s security and happiness,” he said,

He hit out at the BJP, claiming it was “afraid” of the AAP’s model of governance and was indulging in vindictive politics.

“Sixteen cases including that of sedition were filed against me. I got a stay from the Supreme Court in a sedition case. The BJP is doing vindictive politics. Our office here was closed by them. We are facing them strongly,” he said.

“AAP’s model of governance focuses on education, health, education and providing basic facilities to the poor and needs. Our model is an answer to casteist and communal politics played by the BJP,” Singh said.

Providing jobs, unemployment allowance and better prices to farmers” are among the issues the party will take up, he said.

The outcome of the UP assembly polls is considered important as it would reflect on the 2024 general election. The opposition sees an opportunity against the BJP in the bellwether state especially due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

While the SP and BSP have already launched their election campaign to woo various communities, the Congress under the leadership of its General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra is sparing no effort to revive the party at the grassroots level.

Hyderabad MP Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM, AAP and over a dozen small caste-centric regional parties have also announced that they are entering the ring in the politically significant state. Singh said they will highlight the “failures” of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath during the past four and a half years.

“We are exposing them at the grassroots level. This government as promised during the polls made ‘Shamshan’ (cremation ground) in every village. In corona pandemic, every village became ‘Shamshan’ and people died without treatment and lack of medicines,” he alleged.

“The government failed to control crime and criminal activities. Incidents like Hathras and others exposed tall claims on law and order. There are scams galore and even Kumbh and Ram Temple were not spared by scamsters,” he alleged.

In the BJP regime, the state went “backwards” as they have “no concept of development”, he said adding that without increasing the “purchasing power” of people there will be no economic boost.

About the presence of Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM in UP polls and other fronts of smaller parties, Singh said, “Everyone has the right to contest in democracy.”

Kejriwal, who entered politics after gaining the spotlight during Gandhian Anna Hazare’s movement for the Lokpal legislation, is also spearheading the party’s campaign in neighbouring Uttarakhand, where the AAP is projecting itself as an alternative to the BJP and the Congress.

Small parties in big demand in runup to UP assembly polls

In the run-up to Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the big political parties in the state are seen accommodating the issues being brought forward by the smaller ones with an eye on winning the support of some caste groups that they have sway over.

In the upcoming cabinet expansion of the Adityanath government, Sanjay Nishad of Nishad Party and Ashish Patel of Apna Dal are likely to get a cabinet position, people aware of the matter told ET. Both are allies of the BJP.

While Apna Dal contests on its symbol, Nishad Party’s Praveen Nishad is a parliamentarian on BJP’s ticket. His father, Sanjay Nishad, had met home minister Amit Shah and BJP president JP Nadda on a few occasions in Delhi, and now he has extended full support to the BJP before the Assembly polls.

“Before the formation of Nishad Party in 2016, Nishads who account for 18% of the population in the state, were just a pawn in the political battle of bigger parties,” Sanjay Nishad told ET. “But now our community is politically more aware, and our issues are taken seriously by the bigger parties.”

The fact that the BJP is willing to make him a minister proves that the party wants to keep the community together. Nishad claims that in the 2018 bypoll, he was with the SP, and his son, Praveen Nishad, won from the Gorakhpur Lok Sabha seat. When he joined the NDA, the seat went back to the BJP in 2019.

The only identity of these parties is their caste in the most backward lot. “It is true that we are a small party, and we appeal to a section of the society. Alone, we may not be able to win. But if we join a bigger party, our presence fills the gap between winning and losing on almost 100 seats,” Keshav Dev Maurya, president of Mahan Dal told ET. Mahan Dal is a party of Maurya, Kushwaha, Sakya and Saini and has a presence in Rohilkhand region of the state.

These parties prefer to contest on bigger party symbols as they don’t have a fixed symbol approved by the Election Commission.

“Bigger parties run their campaigns all the time, because they have a fixed symbol and people recognise them. We are allotted a symbol during the election and that doesn’t become an identity during election,” Maurya said.

Sanjay Chauhan of Janwadi Party (Socialist), another SP ally, said that before the formation of the party, his community of Nonia-Beldar Chauhan was not politically aware. He accepted that his community voted for the BJP despite his efforts.

“They will tell me till 2019 that if I vote for you, BJP will lose. But now things have changed. Our community members know that there is no representation of our community in the BJP government,” he said.

He claimed that his community, with 2-3% votes, can add around 10,000 votes in 150 assembly constituencies to SP.

There are others like OP Rajbhar of Suheldev Bharat Samaj Party, Krishna Patel of Apna Dal (Krishna Patel group), and Chandra Shekhar Azad of Azad Samaj Party, who are yet to take a call on joining any alliance.

‘Transforming UP’ advert with ‘Kolkata flyover’ image sparks fresh TMC-BJP row

The Trinamool Congress on Sunday took strong exception to the use of a purported image of a Kolkata flyover in an Uttar Pradesh government advertisement to project the economic progress of the state under its Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Noting that it was yet to be confirmed that the image was that of a Kolkata flyover, West Bengal BJP claimed that while the UP government constructs expressways, flyovers come crashing down under the Mamata Banerjee regime in the eastern state.

The advertisement titled ‘Transforming Uttar Pradesh under Yogi Adityanath’ showed an image of a flyover painted in blue-and-white colours synonymous with the TMC government along with high-rises and industries juxtaposed below a cut-out of Yogi Adityanath.

“Before 2017, UP was not taken seriously with regard to investment, but in his four-and-a-half-year rule, that negative perception has been broken and in 2020, it has emerged as the second largest economy in the country,” the message in the advertisement read.

The Indian Express, which had carried the advertisement, issued a corrigendum saying, “A wrong image was inadvertently included in the cover collage of the advertorial on Uttar Pradesh produced by the marketing department of the newspaper. The error is deeply regretted and the image has been removed in all digital editions of the paper.”

The TMC, however, left no opportunity to ridicule the BJP over the episode, claiming that the saffron party has now indirectly accepted the “development spree” under the Mamata Banerjee government and even tried to appropriate it.

“Transforming UP for @myogiadityanath means stealing images from infrastructure seen in Bengal under @MamataOfficial’s leadership and using them as his own! Looks like the ‘DOUBLE ENGINE MODEL’ has MISERABLY FAILED in BJP’s strongest state and now stands EXPOSED for all!” TMC national general secretary Abhishek Banerjee tweeted.

“Mr. @narendramodi is so helpless to save his party that other than changing CMs, he has also had to resort to using pictures of growth & infrastructure seen under @MamataOfficial’s leadership, as his own. #BengalModel > #BJPRuledStatesModel Mr Modi?” Mukul Roy, who has returned to the TMC after winning a West Bengal assembly seat on a BJP ticket, tweeted.

State Transport Minister Firhad Hakim said, “By posting the image of our pride Maa flyover of Kolkata as one built in Uttar Pradesh, the BJP government in the northern state has touched a new low of falsehood. It also indirectly admitted the spree of development under the rule of Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal and tried to appropriate it as its own.”

The West Bengal BJP tried to save face saying that even if the image was indeed that of Maa flyover, the TMC government does not have any other infrastructural development to flaunt.

“Several expressways have been built under the Adityanath government in UP. In comparison, West Bengal has witnessed several flyover collapses in the last few years.

“It is yet to be confirmed whether the image is that of Maa flyover as claimed by the TMC. But their knee-jerk reaction to the advertisement proves they don’t have anything else to flaunt. Even if it is indeed the image of Maa flyover, it was nothing but a mistake and does not take away Adityanath’s credit for accelerating UP’s growth,” West Bengal BJP general secretary Sayantan Basu said.

Muslims should ‘bow to Indian culture’; Ram, Krishna, Shiva were their ancestors: UP minister

Uttar Pradesh minister Anand Swaroop Shukla has said that lord Ram, Krishna, and Shiva were the ancestors of Indian Muslims and they should “bow to the land and culture of India”.

In provocative remarks in UP’s Ballia, the minister of state for parliamentary affairs also said Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath have “raised the flag of Hindutva and Indian culture” and defeated the mindset which “intended to create an Islamic State”.

“The ancestors of the Muslims of India are Lord Ram, Krishna and Shankar (Shiva). They do not need to see the land of Kaaba. These people should bow to the land and culture of India, ” Shukla said while presenting the account of the Adityanath government’s work during the last four-and-a-half-years.

Referring to controversial posters put up in Sambhal recently, Shukla said they were the outcome of Samajwadi Party’s “support to Islamic terrorists” and its MP Shaifur Rehman Barq’s statement “supporting the Taliban”.

Posters calling Sambhal the land of the “ghazis”, an apparent reference to Islamic warriors, had come up ahead of AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi’s meeting there earlier this week.

The BJP had strongly objected to the posters, after which they were removed by workers of the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM).

Shukla said ghazis have been completely eradicated from Uttar Pradesh. Such powers will not be able to raise their heads in future, he said.

Attacking Owaisi, Shukla said his ancestors wanted to make Hyderabad a separate nation but could not succeed.

Will ally only with small parties for Uttar Pradesh polls: Congress’ state chief

Virtually ruling out an alliance with the SP and BSP for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, Congress’ state unit chief Ajay Kumar Lallu on Sunday said his party will forge alliances only with small parties and will “not even think about” joining hands with the big ones for the elections.

He also said the governments of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Samajwadi Party (SP) that have ruled Uttar Pradesh in the last 32 years, when Congress was not in power, failed to live up to the expectations of the people and the Congress was set for a comeback in the state.

In an interview with PTI, Lallu said that in the eyes of the people of Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is the main challenger to the BJP in the polls next year and expressed confidence that the party would win the elections under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and form the next government.

The Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee president said the party will fight the polls under the “supervision” of Priyanka Gandhi as she is the general secretary in-charge of the state and a call on the issue of chief ministerial face will be taken by the national leadership.

Asked about the Congress’ stand on alliances for the UP polls and if there was still a possibility of a tie-up with the SP and BSP, Lallu said, “The Congress’ stand on alliances is clear, we will forge alliances only with small parties. We will not even think about aligning again with big parties.”

Pointing to the reaction of SP and BSP to a Congress booklet that talked about misrule under the non-Congress governments in the last 32 years, he said it is clear that “we will align with small parties” on the issues of the poor, farmers, youth and women’s security.

“We are moving forward as a strong opposition force and under the leadership of Priyanka Gandhi we will win the polls, and form the government in 2022,” Lallu said, adding that he was in touch with small parties on alliances but could not talk about the details now.

Both the SP and BSP have also ruled out tying up with the Congress, with SP’s Akhilesh Yadav saying the party will forge alliances only with small parties and Mayawati asserting that BSP would go solo in the polls.

Lallu claimed that SP as the main challenger to the BJP for the 2022 polls was a media creation and it was the Congress that was standing resolutely on the ground to take on the BJP.

Citing the examples of the Congress’ ‘BJP Gaddi Chhorho’ campaign and party leaders spending three days in gram panchayats and wards to hold a direct dialogue with about 90 lakh people last month, Lallu said only one party is focussed on training its cadre and constantly struggling on the ground and that is the Congress.

“I say with full confidence that when you look at the strength, organisation and struggle, it is clear that Congress is the voice of farmers, youth, labourers, for women’s security and of the village poor,” he asserted.

Claiming that there is anger against the BJP over issues such as price rise, unemployment, farmers’ “plight”, poverty, reservation, “murder of democracy”, Lallu said he believes that this anger will manifest itself in the polls and common people were standing with the Congress.

There is a strong undercurrent in favour of the Congress which will be visible in the elections, he said.

Asked about the demand of caste census by many Opposition parties and the Congress’ stance on it, Lallu said his party’s stand is clear and it is in favour of a caste-based census.

Previously also, under the UPA rule, the Congress had got it done and when the BJP came to power, they stopped the publishing of the caste data, he alleged.

The BJP does not want a caste census but the Congress believes it should be done, he said.

Lallu also asserted that the BJP’s alleged crackdown on farmers as was seen in Haryana recently and the “three black farm laws” will also be a major issue in the upcoming polls and people will stand by the farmers.

“Under Priyanka Gandhi’s leadership there have been various rallies in different parts of the state where these issues were raised. When Rakesh Tikait was attacked, she sent me and we have been strongly standing in support of the farmers,” Lallu said.

“The three black laws were first opposed by Rahul Gandhi and the Congress has raised the issue both inside and outside Parliament,” he said.

Lallu alleged that the recent incidents of mob violence and hate had been orchestrated by the BJP as it was “desperate and disappointed”.

The BJP has lost the confidence of the people and they want to pert people from real issues by raising the Hindu-Muslim bogey, he alleged.

“But the people of UP know that this election will be about issues such as farmers’ plight, health system, women’s safety and corruption,” Lallu said.

The Congress won just seven seats while its alliance partner SP bagged 47 seats in the 403-member assembly in the 2017 assembly polls. The BJP won a thumping mandate with 312 seats and the BSP bagged 19 seats.

In UP, Congress trains workers to battle ‘myths’ about Nehru, party’s history

As part of its campaign in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is training its office-bearers to counter the “misinformation against the Congress”, particularly against its leaders such as Jawaharlal Nehru.

A 24-page booklet titled ‘Dushprachar Aur Sach’ (Misinformation and Truth) lists out 14 widespread ‘myths’ regarding the Congress party, including various versions about the relation between Jawaharlal Nehru and Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, Nehru’s role in the accession of Kashmir into India, the life styles of the Nehru-Gandhi family members and allegations around the party being dynasty-centric.

With pictures of paper clippings, caricatures and bullet points, the booklet lists statements such as “Nehru stalled Sardar Patel as PM”, “If Patel was the PM, Country would have been stronger”, “Congress fed Biryani to terrorists”, “Congress amassed wealth in 70 years”, “Congress leaders let Bhagat Singh be hanged”, “Nehru failed people of J&K”, “Gandhi fasted for Pakistan”, “Congress is soft on Pakistan”, as pure myths.

It states that it was the Congress that fought the two successful wars with Pakistan. It was the UPA that executed capital punishment to Ajmal Kasab and Afzal Guru. The booklet states that it was Nehru who deftly handled the crisis in Kashmir in October 1947 with Raja Hari Singh and that Patel was also part of the many negotiations that led to conception of Article 370. It claims that Nehru had written against the execution of Bhagat Singh and others, and had appealed for just treatment of political prisoners.

It also states that Nehru was in regular touch with Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose’s family after the air crash that is believed to have killed him, and that he gave important responsibilities to Patel. The booklet also lists the Green Revolution, Right to Education, starting of IITs, IIMs, Bhakra Nangal, DRDO, BSF, Right to Information, White Revolution, MGNREGA, nuclear agreement with the US as some key moves by the Congress that strengthened the country, while adding that 12 of its presidents came from outside the Nehru-Gandhi family.

A senior Congress leader said this was to counter the WhatsApp forwards and unsubstantiated matter on social media that portrayed the Congress in bad light.

“These booklets are being distributed to around 60,000 workers during a special 12-day training programme organised by the party for booth-level workers which started Monday in several districts of UP and will end on September 7. A Congress leader said this is to train Congress workers who have been named “Vijay Sena” in the run-up to the assembly elections due early next year.

Through a second booklet ‘RSS and BJP-Anti India’, the party has put out statements by leaders such as Bose, Patel, Gandhi and BR Ambedkar, who were critical of the RSS. In another booklet handed to party workers, the party claimed that Uttar Pradesh is at the bottom in terms of income of farmers, employment, education and health and blamed the SP and BSP. It has attacked the SP for dynastic politics and corruption, blaming it for favouring only one community, without directly naming Yadavs, and has called Mayawati ‘Daulat Ki Beti’ (daughter of wealth, not of a Dalit). BSP chief Mayawati reacted to it sharply by advising the Congress to focus on its shortcomings which depleted its base in UP.

BJP spokesman Chandramohan said the Congress has already been rejected by the people of UP in the successive Lok Sabha and assembly elections. “They use the state for their tourist visits. They have lost their own family bastion. People can see how shallow their commitment is.”

( Originally published on Sep 03, 2021 )

BJP MLA Rathore meets Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, sets off buzz

Bharatiya Janata Party MLA from Sitapur Rakesh Rathore met Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav, giving a clear indication of shifting loyalties in the political quicksand.

Rathore met Akhilesh Yadav on Sunday evening, setting off a political buzz. A photograph of the meeting later went viral on social media.

Samajwadi Party (SP) spokesman Rajendra Chaudhary said that more than 100 BJP MLAs were in touch with the party and were wanting an appointment with the party president.

Rakesh Rathore had struck a discordant note in his party when he had said, about three months ago, that he would not dare speak against his party government for fear of being booked under the sedition charge. Rathore is an OBC (Other Backward Classes) leader from Sitapur.

He had earlier expressed his displeasure in a conversation with a government officer when he said that as a MLA he could not help his people. The audio clip of the conversation had gone viral on social media.

Rathore, 55, said in Hindi: “Hum zyada bolenge toh deshdroh, rajdroh hum pe bhi to lagega (If I say more, I will be booked for sedition too).” He also suggested that MLAs have little standing before the government when he questioned: “vidhayakon ki haisiyat kya hai? (What is the status of legislators)?”

The Bharatiya Janata Party did not officially comment on Rathore’s meeting with Akhilesh Yadav.

A senior party functionary, however, said, “There are some legislators who have been non-performers. Now they are apprehensive of not getting a ticket for the 2022 Assembly elections and are, therefore, looking for greener pastures. Rathore is one of them.”

Rathore did not comment on the meeting.

Ahead of 2022 UP Assembly polls, BJP appoints presidents to five districts

Ahead of 2022 assembly polls, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Monday appointed district presidents to Shrawasti, Barabanki, Unnao, Badayun and Sant Kabir Nagar districts of Uttar Pradesh.

According to a statement issued by Uttar Pradesh BJP President Swatantra Dev Singh, Mahesh Mishra Om, Shashank Kushmesh, Awdhesh Kateyar, Rajeev Gupta, Jagdamba Srivastava have been appointed as the district presidents of Shrawasti, Barabanki, Unnao, Badayun and Sant Kabir Nagar districts respectively.

Meanwhile, ahead of state Assembly polls next year, the BJP organised an enlightened class conference in all 403 constituencies from September 5.

According to the BJP, the conference was organised on September 5 in 17 metro cities of Uttar Pradesh and later it will be held in all 403 assembly seats from September 6-20.

Through these conferences, the BJP aims to reach out to intellectuals of the society like teachers, professors, engineers, doctors and writers to discuss the work done, achievements and other welfare works of the state government.

Subrata Pathak, state general secretary and in-charge of enlightened class conference Campaign, had informed, “Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath along with other ministers will inaugurate the enlightened class conference in Saharanpur on September 5.”

Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are scheduled to take place early next year.

In the 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP won 325 seats out of a total of 403 Assembly seats. Samajwadi Party and its allies won 54 seats, BSP won 19 seats and others won 5 seats respectively.

BJP appoints ministers as election in-charges for poll bound states

With less than five months to go for Assembly polls in five states, BJP has got cracking with the appointment of senior ministers as election in-charges. Education Minister Dharmendra Pradhan will handle the party’s strategy and campaign of Uttar Pradesh, Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pralhad Joshi of Uttarakhand, Jal Shakti Minister Gajendra Singh Shekhawat of Punjab and Environment Minister Bhupendra Yadav of Manipur.

Pradhan has handled the BJP campaign as election in-charge in the last Assembly election in Madhya Pradesh, where the party was facing a tough challenge from Kamal Nath led Congress, and other states in the past. He has also been in-charge of politically important states like Karnataka and Bihar as a general secretary and is well-versed in organizational matters. Information and Broadcasting Minister Anurag Thakur, Ministers of State Arjun Ram Meghwal, Shoba Karandlaje and Annpurna Devi, Rajya Sabha MPs Saroj Pande and Vivek Thakur, and Haryana Minister Capt Abhimanyu have been made co-incharge.

BJP has also appointed in-charges for the six regions of UP. These are Sanjay Bhatia (UP West), Sanjeev Chaurasia (Braj), Y Satya Kumar (Awadh), Sudhir Gupta (Kanpur) Arvind Menon (Gorakhpur) and Sunil Ojha (Kashi).

Pralhad Joshi will have to handle not just party squabbles in the Uttarakhand unit, where BJP has several chief ministerial contenders, but also face a resurgent Congress under Harish Rawat. The fact that BJP had to change its chief minister twice in these five years has not gone down well with the voters. Moreover, in the hill state which usually alternates between BJP and Congress in elections the saffron party is said to be facing a strong anti-incumbency. BJP had also poached several senior Congress leaders, leading to resentment among its cadre.

West Bengal MP Locket Chatterjee and party spokesperson RP Singh will be co-incharge.

Though BJP does not have any high electoral prospects in Punjab, this is the first election where it would be fighting alone as long-time ally Shiromani Akali Dal has walked out of the NDA on the farm laws. The farmers agitation has caused a lot of anger against BJP in the state. As election in-charge, Shekhawat will have to find good candidates for the party and enthuse the rank and file to put up a good show. BJP faces an uphill task with Congress and SAD ahead of it and AAP trying to increase its political footprint.

Union Ministers Hardeep Singh Puri and Meenakshi Lekhi as well as Lok Sabha MP Vinod Chawda have been made co-incharge.

Yadav is known as a good election strategist and will have his task cut out to get a second consecutive term for BJP in Manipur where N Biren Singh heads the government.

( Originally published on Sep 08, 2021 )