The Congress party on Thursday released its first list of 125 candidates for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, including three candidates each from Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar districts. Two of three candidates from Ghaziabad are office-bearers of the party’s district unit while the third is the son of a former Congress MP.

The list was released by party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who is leading the campaign in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh, where elections will be held in seven phases, starting February 10. The districts of Gautam Budh Nagar and Ghaziabad will vote under the first phase, as per the schedule announced by the Election Commission of India.

“Out of the total 125 candidates, 40 per cent are women and 40 per cent are youth. With this historic initiative, we hope to bring in a new kind of politics in the state,” Vadra said in a virtual meeting, after releasing the list.

The Congress has announced three candidates from Ghaziabad, which has five assembly segments and a part of Dhaulana segment (Hapur district). They are Bijender Yadav , the party’s district president, for the Muradnagar seat; Yameen Malik, the party’s district president (minority cell) for the Loni seat; and Sushant Goyal ,the son of former Congress MP late Surendra Prakash Goyal, for the Ghaziabad seat.

“The party has released a list of 125 candidates, with three each from Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar. The list includes 50 women candidates. In Ghaziabad, two more candidates are yet to be declared for the Modinagar and Sahibabad assembly seats. They will be declared soon,” said Dolly Sharma, member of All India Congress Committee and spokesperson of UP Congress Committee.

Presently, all five assembly seats in Ghaziabad are held by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Sushant Goyal, the Congress candidate from Ghaziabad seat, is a contractor who says he is now into full time politics. His father, the late Surendra Prakash Goyal was a Congress MP from Ghaziabad in 2004 and also contested on a Congress ticket (Congress-Samajwdi Party alliance candidate) in the 2017 assembly elections from Muradnagar seat, but lost to BJP candidate Ajit Pal Tyagi by a margin of 90,770 votes.

“I am now into full time politics and will work closely with the people. I will carry forward the works done by my father who was loved by all due to his down-to-earth approach. I will try to implement whatever I learnt while working with him. It would not be right to say that the party has given tickets to its confidants this time. As far as I know, the party conducted at least 10 internal surveys and the last one was carried out about two days ago. It is only after assessing the ground level situation that the party offered me a ticket,” Goyal said.

Bijender Yadav, the Congress district president, said the party has recognised the hard work he has put in over the past 32 years.

“It is indeed a moment of pride for me as I have been offered a ticket to contest. It shows that the party cares for its workers and this will infuse a lot of energy among them. We will contest the upcoming elections with full strength,” Yadav added.

Yameen Malik, the Congress candidate from Loni, said he has been attached to the party for past seven years.

“I have been raising issues relevant to the people and fighting to get them justice at the grassroots level. This ground work has been recognised by the party and I will work for the development in Loni. I will work to establish two hospitals in Loni and also a girls’ college, besides ensuring a proper drainage system,” Malik said.

The sources in the Congress said of the two tickets pending for Sahibabad and Modinagar seats, one is likely to be offered to a woman candidate.

The list also includes names of Pankhuri Pathak from the Noida seat, Deepak Bhati from Dadri and Manoj Chaudhary from Jewar assembly constituencies in Gautam Budh Nagar.

In all, there are 403 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and major political parties are in hectic brainstorming sessions to release their respective lists of candidates for the first phase, which will primarily cover districts in western Uttar Pradesh.

Like the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has also declared a list of three candidates for the Ghaziabad district — Sachin Sharma from Loni, Dr Chavi Yadav from Sahibabad and Mahesh Tyagi from Muradnagar.

BSP and SP ANNOUNCE CANDIDATES

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) also released its first list of candidates on Thursday evening, including those for two Ghaziabad assembly segments — Dr Poonam Garg from Modinagar and Haji Aquil from Loni. Aquil was recently involved in alleged violation of model code of conduct in Loni and booked by the Loni police.

“The two candidates from Loni and Modinagar have been declared by the party while candidates for the remaining three seats will be declared soon,” said Virendra Jatav, BSP district president.

On the other hand, the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal combine also announced three candidates in Ghaziabad.

The SP fielded Amarpal Sharma from the Sahibabad assembly seat. Sharma is a former MLA from Sahibabad; he had won in 2012 on a BSP ticket.

The RLD announced candidates from Modinagar and Loni on Thursday evening.

“Along with Sharma, the SP-RLD alliance has declared Madan Bhaiya from Loni and Sudesh Sharma from Modinagar. The rest of the candidates will be declared in the coming days,” said Rashid Malik, district president of the Samajwadi Party.


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