Samajwadi Party continues to experiment with candidates, four replaced already, fifth is on the cards

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New Delhi: Predominantly Yadav and Muslim-dominated Badaun Lok Sabha seat is a Samajwadi Party (SP) stronghold. Except for 2019, when Dharmendra Yadav narrowly lost to BJP’s Sanghmitra Maurya (daughter of Swami Prasad Maurya), the Samajwadi Party – formed in October 1992 – has never lost this seat. While Saleem Iqbal Shervani represented Badaun in 1996, 1998, 1999 and 2004, Dharmendra Yadav, SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin, took over in 2009 and 2014. As expected, despite the 2019 blip, Dharmendra’s candidature for Badaun was announced in the party’s first list on January 28. He began preparations immediately. However, a month later, on February 20th, SP replaced him with Jaswantnagar MLA Shivpal Yadav. A month and a half later, if party insiders are to be believed, Shivpal could be replaced by his son Aditya Yadav. In a public function held in the Gunnaur town of Badaun on Tuesday, several local leaders including two MLAs have requested the change of candidates.

It seems Akhilesh Yadav’s experiment with ticket distribution will continue for some more time. He has already changed two tickets on Monday. Sardhana MLA Atul Pradhan is now the party’s Lok Sabha candidate from Meerut. He replaces Bhanu Pratap, whose candidature was declared about a month ago.

The party also declared ex-MLA Meera Deepak as its new candidate for the Khajuraho seat in MP. She replaces Manoj Yadav whose name was declared earlier.

These two changes come close on the heels of slashing the ticket of its sitting MP from Moradabad Dr S T Hasan last week. After initially declaring his name, Hasan was replaced a day later. In this Muslim-majority constituency, the party has now fielded ex-MP Ruchi Veera. As per the party insiders, she was the choice of party heavyweight Azam Khan who is miffed with Hasan for some reason. Now, muslims in Moradabad are miffed with the SP for denying ticket to Hasan. Will they choose BSP’s Mohammad Irfan Saifi over Ruchi Veera? Only time will tell.

Even in Rampur, confusion prevailed over the official candidate when Asim Raja and Mohibulla Nadvi, the imam of a mosque in Delhi filed nominations. While Raja claimed the backing of Azam Khan, Nadvi said he had been asked by Akhilesh Yadav himself to contest. Finally, Nadvi prevailed.

This confusion over ticket distribution by the main opposition party in the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh with 80 seats speaks volumes about the ‘preparedness’ it has made. This is when the party claims that they are “fighting to save the democracy and could be the last election”.

While the decisions in the Samajwadi Party have always been opaque and largely depended upon the whims and fancy of Akhilesh Yadav, this kind of uncertainty and puzzle over ticket distribution was never witnessed earlier and only hints at the non-seriousness. The SP insiders say that tickets have been changed in light of the “new political realities and challenges” but when asked about these challenges, they have no credible answer.

The fact remains that the party has not done its homework before announcing the candidatures despite having ample time to do so as an opposition party. And when people protested, like in the case of Meerut, the candidate was changed. However, in the case of Badaun and Moradabad, the party has no clear answer as to why the candidates have been changed. Both were strong candidates and yet, they were replaced. If this continues, defeating BJP in UP will only remain a dream for the Opposition.

(Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone. The opinions and facts in this article do not represent the stand of News9.)

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