Almost a year after losing the Gorakhpur and Phulpur seats to a combined opposition, the BJP is holding back from announcing candidates on the two seats for the coming Lok Sabha elections. The seats were notable omissions in the 10th list candidates announced by the party today.
So far, the BJP has announced candidates for 62 of the 80 seats in Uttar Pradesh, which votes in every phase starting April 11.
In the by-elections held in March last year, Gorakhpur, which had chosen Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for more than two decades, had elected Praveen Nishad, a candidate from the little-known Nishad Party. Mr Nishad, the son of party chief Sanjay Nishad, had contested the election under the banner of the Samajwadi Party.
A similar blow came from Phulpur, which was the constituency of the Yogi Adityanath's deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya.
It was a huge loss of face for the Chief Minister, who had dubbed the by-elections a "dress rehearsal" for the Lok Sabha polls.
Sources said the party is deliberating on which heavyweights would be able to win back the two seats and have sought the opinion of the Chief Minister and his deputy.
The BJP has announced candidates for seats next to these constituencies. UP minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi will contest from Allahabad, which is next to Phulpur, while sitting BJP lawmaker Kamlesh Paswan will fight from Bansgaon, the other Lok Sabha seat in the Gorakhpur district.
The other big surprise in the list is sudden swap of seats between Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun Gandhi. The lawmaker from Pilibhit has vacated her seat for her son after concerns that he might lose from Sultanpur.
State minister Satyadev Pachauri has replaced Murli Manohar Joshi in Kanpur. The veteran leader, along with LK Advani, was dropped from active politics this year.
Western UP's Rampur, meanwhile, is set for a big fight, with the BJP fielding actor-politician Jaya Prada against Samajwadi Party's Azam Khan. Jaya Prada had represented Rampur twice in the Lok Sabha - in 2004 and 2009 - as a member of the Samajwadi Party.
But even when they were party colleagues, Jaya Prada and Azam Khan never saw eye to eye. Jaya Prada had even claimed she was harassed and threatened by Azam Khan.
The BJP has denied a ticket to Barabanki's sitting lawmaker Priyanka Rawat. Sources say her behaviour towards her constituents and local party workers has influenced the decision.
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