Battle Lines Drawn As Uttar Pradesh's Lok Sabha Election Nominations Begin Amidst Intense Contest

Battle Lines Drawn As Uttar Pradesh's Lok Sabha Election Nominations Begin Amidst Intense Contest

The spotlight is on eight constituencies in western UP—Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Moradabad, Rampur, and Pilibhit—which are scheduled for polling on April 19.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Wednesday, March 20, 2024, 08:06 PM IST
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Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | FPJ

Lucknow: The battleground for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh was set ablaze on Thursday as the nomination process for the first phase commenced. The spotlight is on eight constituencies in western UP—Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Nagina, Moradabad, Rampur, and Pilibhit—which are scheduled for polling on April 19.

In the previous 2019 elections, the SP-BSP alliance clinched five of these seats—Saharanpur, Bijnor, and Nagina went to BSP, while Moradabad and Rampur were secured by SP.

This time, the BJP has strategically allocated Bijnor to its ally Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), fielding Meerapur MLA Chandan Chauhan against SP's candidate Yashveer Singh. BSP, on the other hand, has nominated Bijendra Singh, a former RLD member, who has now joined Mayawati's camp.

In Rampur, BJP has named Ghanshyam Lodhi, who emerged victorious in a 2022 bypoll, defeating SP's Asim Raja, following the disqualification of SP stalwart Azam Khan. Meanwhile, SP, in alliance with Congress, is yet to announce its candidate.

The contest remains intense in Saharanpur, where BSP's Haji Fazlur Rehman previously defeated the BJP candidate by a significant margin. Similarly, Moradabad, won by SP's ST Hasan in 2019, awaits candidate announcements from both BJP and the SP-Congress coalition.

Kairana, another closely watched constituency, witnessed Hindu families' reported exodus ahead of the 2017 UP elections. BJP has fielded incumbent MP Pradeep Chaudhary against SP's Ikra Hasan. BSP's candidate is yet to be declared, with speculations hinting at a potential Muslim candidate to challenge SP's support base.

In Muzaffarnagar, BJP's hopes rest on sitting MP and Union Minister Sanjeev Balyan, who faces competition from SP's Harendra Malik and BSP's Dara Singh Prajapati, playing the OBC card.

Nagina, a reserved seat, saw BSP's Girish Chandra emerge victorious in 2019. BJP has replaced its previous candidate with party MLA Om Kumar, while SP's Manoj Kumar awaits the official announcement. Speculations suggest Dalit leader Chandrashekhar Azad might enter the fray.

The spotlight also falls on the Pilibhit seat, as BJP deliberates over fielding sitting MP Varun Gandhi, known for his vocal criticism of the party's policies. Varun's mother, Maneka Gandhi, has maintained a low profile within the party, signaling a shift in BJP dynamics since their exclusion from the national executive committee in 2021.

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