In a surprising move, Union Minister SP Singh Baghel has been pitted against BJP’s main contender in the upcoming UP assembly polls: Akhilesh Yadav.
SP Singh Baghel, the BJP MP from Agra, is the party’s candidate from Karhal in eastern Uttar Pradesh from where Akhilesh Yadav is making his grand debut in the state election. Karhal has been a Samajwadi Party bastion for two decades.
“It is very important to have a surprise element in elections,” said the minister of state for law and justice, about the BJP springing his candidature at the last moment. Promising that the Karhal contest with the son of his former boss Mulayam Singh Yadav will be “exciting”, Baghel, said that he will fight with all his might. He rubbished the claim that Karhal is anyone’s bastion or stronghold.
“I have seen Kannauj, Firozabad, and Etawa (all Samajwadi strongholds) fall,” pointed out Baghel, who had earlier fought an election against Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav and lost. He alleged that Karhal and the adjoining region were given the “step-motherly treatment” by the SP and Baghel will “get people justice and free them from gundas”.
After filing his nomination papers for the seven phase polls starting from February 10, Baghel told reporters that he was revealed as the BJP candidate from Karhal virtually at the last minute. His main campaign points would be nationalism and development, he said.
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Baghel also pointed out that it was the BJP that thought about the country and removed Article 370 (which had given special status to Jammu and Kashmir). Akhilesh Yadav, who filed his nomination papers earlier today (January 21) as well, said that whoever is chosen as the BJP candidate from Karhal will lose. Stating that the UP election will “write the country’s history for the next century”, he urged people to take part in this movement of positive politics with progressive thinking and defeat negative politics.
Baghel started his career in the Uttar Pradesh police and was a member of Mulayam Singh Yadav’s security team. It was Mulayam Singh who gave Baghel the chance to fight his first Lok Sabha election in 1989, which he lost. He lost in the next election too and was elected for the first time in the 1998 national election.
Baghel is a turncoat politician having hopped from the Samajwadi Party to Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) before switching allegiance to the BJP. He had won in the 2017 UP election and the 2019 Lok Sabha election and became a part of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet last year.