UP Elections 2017: Congress candidate list includes Imran Masood, who threatened to ‘chop up’ PM Modi

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Hours after it sealed a pre-poll pact with Samajwadi Party, Congress released its first list of 41 candidates for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, that include former Union minister Jitin Prasad and controversial leader Imran Masood. While Masood, who is known for his hate speech against Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, will contest Nakur seat, Prasad will fight from Tilhar Assembly constituency.

Some of the other names in the list include Mukesh Choudhary, who will contest Deoband Assembly constituency, while Pradeep Mathur has been fielded from Mathura seat.

Samajwadi Party and Congress sealed a pre-poll pact to contest the UP Assembly elections, ending days of suspense and feverish parleys, with compulsions of realpolitik forcing the two parties to come together to thwart BJP’s attempt to storm back two power after 15 years. The alliance, which at one stage looked doomed with both sides driving a hard bargain, was announced by the chiefs of the state units of the two parties who declared while SP will have the lion’s share of 298 of 403 seats, Congress will contest the remaining 105. The seven phase polls in the state will start on February 11.

Samajwadi Party and Congress sealed a pre-poll pact to contest the UP assembly elections, ending days of suspense and feverish parleys, with compulsions of realpolitik forcing the two parties to come together to thwart BJP’s attempt to storm back two power after 15 years.

Masood’s appointment is sure to become a sticking point as the Congress leader, who was arrested in 2014, had said: “The Congress candidate was seen in the video as saying that “If Modi tries to make Uttar Pradesh into Gujarat, then we will chop him into tiny pieces…I am not scared of getting killed or attacking someone. I will fight against Modi. He thinks UP is Gujarat. Only 4 % Muslims are there in Gujarat while there are 42 per cent Muslims in UP.”

The alliance, which at one stage looked doomed with both sides driving a hard bargain, was announced by the chiefs of the state units of the two parties who declared while SP will have the lion’s share of 298 of 403 seats, Congress will contest the remaining 105. At one stage senior SP leader Naresh Agarwal had said the possibility of an alliance was “almost over” and blamed the “stubborn” attitude of Congress for the deadlock.

“SP and Congress have forged an alliance and will contest UP assembly polls together,” SP state president Naresh Uttam told the hurriedly convened press conference.

UP PCC chief Raj Babbar hoped the SP-Congress alliance will reap a bumper electoral harvest in the state and fulfil aspriations of all sections of the society.

He said a Common Minimum Programme will be drafted within a week of the alliance coming to power.

“For unity and integrity of India and following secular ideology, we will continue our fight under SP national president Akhilesh Yadav,” state Samajwadi Party chief Naresh Uttam told a press conference addressed jointly with UP PCC president Raj Babbar.

“The country’s secular fabric will become stronger when Akhilesh Yadav becomes the chief minister again,” Uttam said.

He said the idea was to “uproot communal BJP” and make UP a leading state by removing both BJP and Mayawati’s BSP.

Babbar said Congress has accepted SP’s offer of 105 seats keeping in mind the prevailing situation in the country and also the atmosophere in the state.

“Keeping these factors in mind, Congress leadership agreed to strike an alliance to thwart BJP’s divisive politics and at the same time boost secularism and promote communal and social harmony.

“Our ideologies are not different. We share many common ideologies,” he said, adding both the parties believed in social justice and development, peace and good atmosphere.

The alliance was said to have materialised after Congress president Sonia Gandhi intervened.

One of the reasons for the delay in announcement of the tie-up was reportedly Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s unhappiness over Congress leadership sending light-weight emissaries like election strategist Prashant Kishor for talks.

However, senior Congress leaders later got involved and salvaged the deal. Sonia Gandhi’s political secretary Ahmed Patel tweeted: “Wrong to suggest lightweights were dealing on behalf of Congress party. Discussion was at highest level- b/w CM (UP), GS I/C (Ghulam Nabi Azad) & Priyanka Gandhi.” Azad, Congress general secretary incharge of UP, too said Priyanka, who had hitherto limited herself to Amethi and Rae Bareli parliamentary seats represented by her brother Rahul and mother Sonia respectively, played a major role in identifying the seats to be contested by the party and in alliance talks.

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