he Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) on Sunday released its second list of 155 candidates for the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls, which features children of at least three party bigwigs and a few defectors from other parties.
The most prominent among the so-called ‘star kids’ is Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s son Pankaj Singh, who has been given ticket from Noida.
Pankaj, according to sources, was keen on contesting from Sahibabad, but the BJP chose to field former MLA from Ghaziabad Sunil Sharma from that seat.
Besides, Lucknow MP Lalji Tandon’s son Ashutosh Tandon alias Gopalji has been given ticket from the Lucknow East seat — which he won during the by-election in 2014 — and Kairana MP Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka Singh has been fielded from Kairana.
The BJP openly criticises “bhai-bhatijawad” (nepotism) in politics.
The defectors from other parties, who have found a place in the candidates’ list, include Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who defected from the Congress to join the BJP, Brajesh Pathak, who came from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi, another Congress defector.
Nandi, a former minister in the UP Cabinet during the BSP government, has been fielded from Allahabad South seat, Rita Joshi from Lucknow Cantt., and Brajesh Pathak from Lucknow Central.
Among the prominent faces, party’s National Secretary Sidharth Nath Singh has also got a ticket from Allahabad West.
The BJP’s second list, like the previous one, did not feature any Muslim candidate.
The party candidates were announced by its General Secretary Arun Singh and Uttar Pradesh unit chief Keshav Prasad Maurya.
The nominees were finalised by the Central Election Committee at a meeting on January 19, presided over by President Amit Shah. Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior Cabinet ministers attended the meeting.
The BJP has till now declared 304 of the 403 candidates. The staggered elections in Uttar Pradesh will start on February 11.