The latest list of candidates announced by the BJP for the Lok Sabha polls in Uttar Pradesh throws in more than one surprise.
Union Minister Maneka Gandhi has vacated her Pilibhit Lok Sabha seat for her son Varun Gandhi. Varun is the Lok Sabha MP from Sultanpur, an area right next to the Amethi Lok Sabha seat of Congress president Rahul Gandhi. Maneka Gandhi will now contest from Sultanpur.
No reason has been given for the seat swap, but sources say the move was suggested by Maneka Gandhi herself, because she felt Varun Gandhi was on a sticky wicket in Sultanpur.
Another surprise – no announcement from the party of a candidate from the Gorakhpur or the Phulpur Lok Sabha seats. The BJP had lost both these high profile seats in the 2018 Lok Sabha bypolls. Gorakhpur was represented by Yogi Adityanath before he became the chief minister, while Phulpur was represented by Keshav Prasad Maurya, before he became the deputy chief minister. The BJP has announced candidates for seats next to these constituencies. UP government minister Rita Joshi will contest from Allahabad, that is next to Phulpur, while sitting BJP lawmaker Kamlesh Paswan will fight from Bansgaon, the other Lok Sabha seat in the Gorakhpur district.
Western UP’s Rampur, meanwhile, is set for a big fight with the BJP officially declaring the candidature of Jaya Prada from the seat. Jaya Prada had represented Rampur twice in the Lok Sabha – in 2004 and 2009 – as a member of the Samajwadi Party. She will be pitted against Samajwadi Party heavyweight Azam Khan for the seat. When she was in the Samajwadi Party, Jaya Prada and Azam Khan never saw eye to eye.
Jaya Prada had earlier claimed she was harassed by Azam Khan and received threats from him.
“Even as a sitting MP (Member of Parliament) from a party, I wasn’t spared. Azam Khan harassed me. He attempted an acid attack on me. I had no certainty if I would be alive the next day. I would tell mother while leaving the house that I wasn’t sure if I would ever return home. I emerged out of it,” Jaya Prada told reporters at a literature festival in Mumbai last month.