Express News Service
LUCKNOW: Former Uttar Pradesh minister Swami Prasad Maurya, who had deserted the BJP to join the Samajwadi Party with two other ministers and around half a dozen sitting BJP MLAs last month, has been given a ticket from Fazilnagar instead of his traditional stronghold of Padrauna in Kushinagar. Fazilnagar is an assembly seat adjoining Padrauna which Maurya has been representing for four terms since 2007.
Even after joining the BJP defecting from the BSP in 2016, Maurya had contested from Padrauna and is a sitting MLA from there. Now, in Fazilnagar, Maurya will be up against the BJP’s Surendra Kushwaha, the son of incumbent BJP MLA Ganga Singh Kushwaha.
Maurya’s name was on the SP list of three candidates, comprising Abhishek Mishra from Lucknow’s Sarojini Nagar seat and Pallavi Patel from Sirathu in Kaushambi besides Maurya. Pallavi Patel, the sister of Union minister and BJP ally Anupriya Patel, will face deputy CM Keshav Prasad Maurya in Sirathu.
Since Maurya left the BJP, there was speculation that the ruling party would field a strong candidate to corner him in his pocket borough. In the meantime, senior Congress leader and the scion of Kushinagar royal family RPN Singh joined the BJP. Padrauna has been the turf of RPN Singh as he has represented it in UP Assembly for three straight terms – 1996, 2002 and 2007.
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Political circles are abuzz with speculation that RPN Singh will contest from Padrauna on the BJP ticket. In the Lok Sabha elections in 2009, he had defeated Maurya from Kushinagar parliamentary seat. The political rivalry between Maurya and RPN Singh has been going on for quite long.
As per sources, Maurya wanted to shift his constituency from Padrauna to Fazilnagar as he was sensing anti-incumbency against him in his traditional constituency. Akhilesh Yadav obliged him purportedly fulfilling the promise made to him when he switched sides from the BJP to the SP.
However, Maurya claimed that Fazilnagar would be a challenge for him and that the more difficult the challenge was, the better he felt. “I had said that my workers accept my popularity everywhere, so I welcome whatever has been decided for me by the party’s national president,” said Maurya after the announcement on Wednesday. However, he refused to acknowledge any challenge from RPN Singh saying, “There will perhaps be no candidate weaker than RPN Singh if the BJP fields him.”
Meanwhile, of the three ministers who had left the Yogi government to join the SP last month, two — Swami Prasad Maurya and Dara Singh Chauhan — have shifted to other constituencies leaving their strongholds as was promised to them by the SP leadership when they deserted the BJP. Dara Singh Chauhan has shifted from Madhuban in Mau to Ghosi in the same district.
However, the third one Dharam Singh Saini wanted the ticket from his own constituency Nakur and he has also been obliged denying a ticket to Congress strongman Imran Masood who also wanted to contest from the same constituency. Saini and Masood have been fighting against each other for quite some time in Nakur.