New Delhi: The BJP on Thursday finalised its candidates for 172 assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh and is likely to field both Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and Deputy Chief Minister Keshav Prasad Maurya who are currently members of the Legislative Council, party leaders said.
Polling in most of these 172 seats will be held in the initial phases beginning February 10 and the party is also considering fielding Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma and state unit president Swatantra Dev Singh.
Addressing the media at the BJP headquarters, Maurya said the party held wider deliberations on the 172 assembly seats and will register a bigger victory than the 2017 assembly polls.
BJP president J P Nadda and Union ministers Rajnath Singh and Nitin Gadkari, all three of whom have contracted the coronavirus, joined the meeting via video conferencing, while Home Minister Amit Shah and several other leaders besides those from Uttar Pradesh, including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, met physically.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi was also scheduled to join the meeting virtually.
According to party sources, Adityanath is likely to be fielded from Ayodhya and Maurya from Sirathu constituency. Sharma may contest from one of the assembly constituencies in the state capital Lucknow.
A five-term former Lok Sabha member from Gorakhpur, Adityanath is currently a member of the state's Legislative Council.
The party is likely to announce its first list of candidates in the next few days, reports PTI quoting the sources.
As many as 58 and 55 seats of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly will face the polls on February 10 and February 14 respectively. The state is scheduled to have seven-phase polls.
The BJP faces an uphill task of repeating its performance of the last assembly election of winning 53 out of 58 constituencies in western Uttar Pradesh where polling will be held in the first phase on February 10.
Western Uttar Pradesh which has seen widespread protests over the Union government's now-repealed farm laws will be very crucial for the BJP for achieving the target of winning more than 300 seats out of a total of 403 again.
In the first phase, polling will be held in 58 assembly seats in Shamli, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Hapur, Gautam Budh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Bulandshahr, Mathura, Agra and Aligarh districts and the notification will be issued on Friday.
On these 58 seats, the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party won two seats each in 2017 and the Rashtriya Lok Dal got one seat.
In addition to the farmer agitation, the issues of "exodus" of a community from Kairana, sugarcane price and payment, and the temple of Lord Krishna in Mathura are likely to feature prominently in the campaign by various parties.
All opposition parties, including the Samajwadi Party, Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party, have given priority to the issues related to farmers, while the ruling BJP claims that the Yogi Adityanath-led government has done several important works for the development of the region.
The BJP highlights in its campaign the proposed international airport in Noida, ending migration from Kairana and the development of the region, along with clearing dues of sugarcane farmers.
In the first week of September last, there was a big mahapanchayat of farmers in Muzaffarnagar against the three farm laws. Bharatiya Kisan Union leader Rakesh Tikait had made the allegation of harassment of farmers by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
After the communal riots in Muzaffarnagar in 2013, challenges had arisen for the Samajwadi Party in this stronghold of western Uttar Pradesh and the BJP benefited in 2014 and 2019 Lok Sabha and 2017 assembly polls.
Adityanath and top BJP leaders claim that there has not been a single riot in Uttar Pradesh after the BJP government was formed in 2017.