UP Mayor polls: BJP bets heavy on fresh faces, pulls out several sitting mayors from contention

In a move ostensibly aimed at warding off anti-incumbency in the upcoming mayoral elections in Uttar Pradesh, the ruling BJP is betting heavy on new candidates, even outsiders. Of the 17 mayoral candidates, the party has repeated only sitting mayors in Bareilly, Kanpur, and Moradabad.

BJP on Sunday sprung a surprise when it announced Archana Verma as its Shahjahanpur Municipal Corporation, just about four hours after she joined the party, defecting from the Samajwadi Party.

Archana Verma, SP’s declared mayoral candidate from Shahjahanpur, joined the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Sunday and soon after, her name figured in the list of mayoral candidates.

Addressing the media after her joining, Deputy Chief Minister Brajesh Pathak said Archana’s father-in-law Ramamurthy Verma was a four-time MLA (three times from Shahjahanpur’s Jalalabad constituency and once from Dadraul). He was also a one-time MP from Shahjahanpur (1996).

An interesting omission from the list of seven names in the second phase of polling, declared by the state BJP president Bhupendra Singh Chaudhary, was the name of Rishikesh Upadhyay, sitting mayor of Ayodhya.

Earlier, the BJP dropped Abhilasha Gupta, the outgoing mayor of Prayagraj and wife of state government minister Nand Gopal Gupta Nandi. Gupta, who was seeking her third term as mayor, was replaced by Umesh Chandra Kesarwani.

On Sunday, Chaudhary announced the names of the mayoral candidates of the seven municipal corporations for the second phase of elections, fielding Archana Verma from Shahjahanpur, Girishpati Tripathi from Ayodhya, Pramila Pandey from Kanpur, Sunita Dayal from Ghaziabad, Prashant Singhal from Aligarh, and Umesh Gautam from Bareilly. Girishpati Tripathi is the mahant of a temple in Ayodhya.

The BJP has given a second chance to Umesh Gautam and Pramila Pandey, both outgoing mayors, from the unreserved Bareilly seat and Kanpur Municipal Corporation, respectively.

On April 16, releasing the list of 10 mayoral candidates for the first phase of civic body polls, the BJP had repeated Moradabad mayor Vinod Agarwal, fielding fresh faces in the remaining nine municipal corporations.

A senior BJP leader said that the party changed candidates in line with change in reservation clause in many seats and also to give new people a chance.

The party in its list of names for the first phase of the polls, had replaced Lucknow Mayor Sanyukta Bhatia with state executive member Sushma Khadakwal.

It fielded Manglesh Srivastava from Gorakhpur and Ashok Tiwari from Varanasi, Vinod Agarwal from Moradabad, Kamini Rathore from Firozabad, Hemlata Diwakar from Agra, Ajay Kumar from Saharanpur, Vinod Kumar Agarwal from Mathura-Vrindavan, and Bihari Lal Arya from Jhansi.

The urban local body elections in the state will be held in two phases on May 4 and May 11. The counting of votes will take place on May 13.

According to Uttar Pradesh State Election Commissioner Manoj Kumar, “There will be elections for a total of 14,684 posts under the 760 urban body elections in the state.”

He said the elections will be held for the post of 17 mayors, 1,420 corporators, 199 chairpersons of municipal councils, 5,327 members of municipal councils, 544 chairpersons of town panchayats, and 7,178 members of town panchayats.

Thirty-seven districts of Saharanpur, Moradabad, Agra, Jhansi, Prayagraj, Lucknow, Devipatan, Gorakhpur, and Varanasi divisions will go to polls in the first phase, while polls in the 38 districts of Meerut, Bareilly, Aligarh, Kanpur, Chitrakoot, Ayodhya, Basti, Azamgarh, and Mirzapur divisions will be held in the second phase.

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