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Kajal Agrawal

7 Muslims among BSP’s 25 candidates in UP — a likely challenge for SP-Congress & boost for BJP Featured

  25 March 2024

Lucknow: The BSP Sunday came out with two lists of a total 25 candidates for the Lok Sabha elections. In its first list, of the 16 candidates declared, nearly half — seven — are Muslims, a move that’s likely to hurt the prospects of the Congress-SP opposition alliance in the state and help the BJP.

Apart from the Muslim candidates, the Mayawati-led party, in its first list, fielded four candidates from the upper caste, two from the OBC community, and three SC candidates from reserved seats.

The BSP’s seven Muslim candidates include Majid Ali from Saharanpur, Zeeshan Khan from Rampur, Shaulat Ali from Sambhal, Irfan Saifi from Moradabad, Mujahid Hussain from Amroha, Abid Ali from Aonla and Anis Ahmad Khan from Pilibhit.

Of these seats, the SP-Congress alliance has declared Muslim candidates on four — Saharanpur, Sambhal, Moradabad and Amroha.

Its two OBC faces include Dara Singh Prajapati from Muzaffarnagar constituency and Jat candidate Vijendra Singh from Bijnor.

The party also fielded four upper caste candidates — Shripal Singh, Rajendra Solanki, Praveen Bansal and Devvrat Tyagi — from Kairana, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Baghpat and Meerut, respectively.

From the reserved seats of Nagina, Shahjahanpur and Bulandshahr, it has declared Surendra Pal, Dodram Verma and Girish Jatav as its candidates, respectively.

The party has replaced its sitting MPs in Saharanpur, Nagina and Bijnor, while its Amroha MP has already switched to the Congress.

The decision comes in the backdrop of BSP’s sitting Bijnor MP Malook Nagar making headlines for his meeting with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) leaders and Saharanpur MP Haji Fazlur Rehman’s announcement that he won’t fight elections but will support any candidate challenging the BJP. Moreover, the party had expelled its Amroha MP Danish Ali, who was declared as the Congress candidate for the same seat Saturday.

Later in the evening, the BSP declared its second list of nine more candidates. This includes candidates for Mathura, Fatehpur Sikri, Firozabad, Kanpur, Akbarpur and four reserved seats, including Hathras, Agra, Etawa and Jalaun.

It has fielded Hembabu Dhangar from Hathras, Pooja Amrohi from Agra, Sarika Singh Baghel from Etawah and Suresh Chandra Gautam from Jalaun.

Baghel is a former MP from Hathras who became the youngest woman MP from the RLD in 2009. She subsequently joined the SP before joining the BJP in 2019. She has now been fielded by the BSP from Etawah.

Amrohi is the daughter of Satya Behan, a prominent Congress leader who has served as a Rajya Sabha member in the past. A humanities graduate from Delhi’s Lady Shri Ram College, Amrohi is the wife of a businessman and the daughter-in-law of a former Haryana DGP.

Gautam, who retired as an engineer from the UP government, has been associated with the BSP since 1983 and became a convenor of the All India Backward and Minority Communities Employees Federation (BAMCEF) in 1989. He later became the president of the SC/ST employees welfare samiti of state electricity corporation and led an agitation during the implementation of the Mandal commission.


Dhangar is an Agra-based software engineer and son of an old party horse Jagdish Prasad Dhangar who was associated with party founder Kanshi Ram during the early days of the BSP.  From the other five seats, BSP has fielded upper caste candidates, including three Brahmins, a Vaishya and a Rajput.

From Mathura, the BSP has fielded journalist and advocate Kamalkant Upmanyu while Ram Niwas Sharma, a former block head from the area, has been fielded from Fatehpur Sikri. Sharma had fought the assembly poll from Fatehpur Sikri in 1993 on an SP ticket but lost and later distanced himself from politics after BSP denied him a ticket in 2012 assembly polls.

Businessman and advocate Satendra Jain Solly is the BSP’s candidate for Firozabad. Jain who belongs to the Vaishya caste, is a first timer who is known in the area for campaigning to raise voice against open drains and water-logging of roads.


From the Kanpur seat, BSP has fielded Kuldeep Bhadauria, and for Akbarpur seat of Kanpur Dehat, it has named Rajendra Kumar Dwivedi. Bhadauria, who began his political journey participating in students politics, has served as the general secretary of the students’ union of the DAV College in the area. He owns a business and is an advocate too. Meanwhile, Dwivedi, a businessman, has been associated with the BSP for the past two decades.

Also read: SBSP chief, a serial turncoat, a record-holding BJP MLA & RLD’s SC face — UP’s 4 new cabinet ministers

BSP & SP-Congress fight on 4 seats

While the Congress Saturday declared former BSP leaders Imran Masood and Danish Ali as its candidates from Saharanpur and Amroha, respectively, the SP Sunday declared sitting Lok Sabha MP S.T. Hasan as its candidate from Moradabad. The Akhilesh-Yadav-led party has already declared Shafiqur Rehman Barq’s grandson Zia-ur Rehman as its candidate from Sambhal.


Yadav had recently met Azam Khan, senior SP leader and the party’s prominent figure in the Muslim community, at Sitapur jail. Party insiders reveal that discussions were held regarding potential candidates for the Rampur constituency.

Out of the 16 candidates revealed by the BSP Sunday, the SP-Congress alliance has already disclosed candidates for the constituencies of Amroha, Saharanpur, Sambhal, Moradabad, Nagina, Pilibhit, Aonla, Shahjahanpur, Gautam Buddha Nagar, Baghpat, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, and Kairana.

However, the alliance is yet to finalise candidates for Rampur and Bulandshahr constituencies, which have been allocated to the SP and Congress, respectively.

Among the seven Muslim candidates declared by the BSP so far, four will fight SP-Congress alliance candidates from the same community on the seats of Amroha, Moradabad, Sambhal and Saharanpur.


Amroha will see Congress’ Danish Ali fight Mujahid Hussain of the BSP, in Moradabad, BSP’s Irfan Saifi will be up against SP’s sitting MP S.T. Hasan, while in Saharanpur, the fight will be between Congress’s Imran Masood and BSP’s Majid Ali. In Sambhal, BSP’s Shaulat Ali will fight SP’s Zia -ur Rehman Barq.

All four of these seats had gone to the SP-BSP alliance when the two parties had tied up in the 2019 general elections.

According to analysts, the BSP has banked on several new faces due to a shortage of good candidates. Moreover, they add, by fielding Muslims candidates, its attempt will be to get the community on its side in the Muslim-dominated seats which may harm the SP-Congress alliance.

“Mayawati has always fielded more Muslims than anyone else. Wherever Muslims are in majority, both SP and BSP want to field Muslim candidates and take advantage of the vote share. However, this usually results in counter-polarisation of votes, which might end up helping the BJP on such seats,” Mirza Asmer Beg, professor of political science at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) told ThePrint.


Beg noted that in 2019, the SP and the BSP were fighting in alliance and won 15 seats in total, of which, both the BSP and SP-RLD alliance have fielded Muslim candidates on four.

“While earlier the parties were allies, they are now fighting as foes. For the BSP, defeating SP becomes the main target and it wouldn’t mind if the BJP, which is a national level party, goes on to win. The parties have had historical background of poaching each other’s constituency, whether it is Muslims which are generally known to be favouring the SP or the OBCs in their heydays, or even the SCs. This is more likely to help the BJP given the charged electoral atmosphere which is apparently in favour of BJP due to communal atmosphere and the charisma of being in power at the Centre,” he said.

Beg added that the BSP fielding lesser-known faces like Shripal Singh, Rajendra Solanki, Praveen Bansal, Abid Ali, Shaulat Ali, Devvrat Tyagi, also shows that it is facing shortage of candidates as many are not willing to fight for the party any more.


“There may be financial reasons behind it given that fighting a Lok Sabha election entails a huge cost and also because established politicians don’t want to fight to lose given the BSP’s declining political fortunes. Moreover, it reflects that Mayawati has developed a trust deficit and is hence, fielding lesser-known candidates,” he said.






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