31% Muslims in SP-RLD’s 1st List; Communal Plot-hit Loni, Kairana Go To Jayant, Akhilesh Each

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By: Anand Singh | Rohan Dua
Updated: 13 January, 2022 8:51 pm IST

LUCKNOW: Eyeing the Muslim-Yadav pie that has also become both a magnet and bane for the Samajwadi Party (SP) since 2014 Lok Sabha while BJP has sailed over every election on the back of other chunkier castes of Uttar Pradesh, the regional party with socialist credentials on Thursday teamed up with Rashtriya Lok Dal  (RLD) to have 31 per cent Muslims in the fray in its first list of 29 candidates.

Samajwadi Party-RLD alliance announced nine Muslim candidates out of 29. According to first joint list, SP, which is being seen as principal Opposition party to the BJP, will contest 10 seats while RLD will contest the rest 19 in the first phase of UP polls on February 10.

SP supremo Akhilesh Yadav and RLD chief Jayant Choudhary had announced alliance November last year. While Jayant who had lost Lok Sabha polls in 2019, has said he wouldn’t contest this year, Akhilesh is yet to make public his move.

Among the Muslim candidates, SP has fielded Rafiq Ansari from Meerut, Nahid Hasan from Kairana, Shahid Manzoor from Kithaur, Zafar Alam from Aligarh, Salman Saeed from Kol and Aslam Chaudhary from Dhaulana assembly seats. RLD has fielded Ahmed Hamid from Baghpat, Haji Yunus from Bulandhshar and Dilwanawaz Khan from Syana assembly constituencies.

This is second time that RLD has formalised a tie-up with SP after 2019 Lok Sabha where it failed to lift each other’s fortunes, handing over the BJP a mega tally of 300-plus seats.

The first list of Samajwadi Party-led alliance however came as a tepid response to Congress — the party has remained out of power in UP since 1989 —  that released its first list with as many as 125 candidates, giving away 33 to Dalits, 23 to OBCs and also, like SP-RLD, 20 to Muslims. 

BJP has accused both Congress and SP of minority appeasement in UP.

Announcement by Congress UP general secretary Priyanka Gandhi earlier triggered a storm after she handed over candidature to an anti-CAA protester Sadaf Jafar and bikini poster girl Archana Gautam from Lucknow Central and Hastinapur even as her party was mum on whether the dynast will herself take a poll jump this year.

Among the key seats by SP-RLD are Kairana, Jewar and Loni.

Kairana once hogged limelight over exodus of Hindu businessmen , a rattling issue that became BJP’s central theme for campaigns in the western UP in 2014 and 2017 but also opened floodgates for the Opposition when its Muslim candidate won the Lok Sabha by-poll here in 2018.

Hussain had won Kairana in 2017 as SP candidate.  BJP’s popular leader Dhirendra Singh had won 2017 from Jewar by defeating Vedram Bhati of the BSP.

Loni, which is part of Ghaziabad district, was in action in June last year after UP Police sent summons to Twitter, making the US-based micro-blogging platform one of the nine accused in an FIR registered by it.  Ghaziabad Police had invoked charges of attempt to cause a riot in the state over a video over claims of forced chant of Jai Shri Ram —a charge later found fake by cops after probe.

The video was shared on Twitter by an independent fact-checker Mohammad Zubair, who identifies himself as a co-founder of Alt News and journalist Saba Naqvi, allegedly without verifying claims on ground. Ghaziabad Police had made them accused as well.

Ghaziabad Police had said that the video they shared – in which the victim of the assault, Abdul Samad, claims he was the target of a hate crime – was unverified. The probe had found that Samad was in the business of making and selling amulets and was an earlier acquaintance of Gujjar and others.

Of the 29 candidates announced, Babita Devi from RLD is the lone woman candidate. She will be fighting from Baldev assembly constituency.


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