UP Assembly elections: From a Miss Bikini India contestant to poll violence victim, Congress presents medley of characters in candidates

The Congress has released its first list of 125 candidates for the Uttar Pradesh polls of which 50 are women in line with the party’s poll promise

FP Staff January 17, 2022 13:00:14 IST
UP Assembly elections: From a Miss Bikini India contestant to poll violence victim, Congress presents medley of characters in candidates

Congress workers hold cut-outs of their party leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi Vadra ahead of the UP Assembly elections. AFP

After naming the mother of the Unnao rape incident, ASHA worker Poonam Pandey and anti-Citizenship Amendment Act activist Sadaf Jafar as their candidates for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress has named a few other candidates of varied profiles.

Here's why a few of them stand out in the crowd.

Archana Gautam

The Congress announced that it would be fielding actor/model-turned-politician Archana Gautam as its candidate from Meerut’s Hastinapur which is considered to be the ‘ancient holy’ city, for the upcoming Assembly elections.

Archana Gautam quickly went viral after the party’s announcement. It has been reported that the politician, who joined the party in November 2021, was a former beauty pageant titleholder who won Miss Bikini India 2018, Miss Uttar Pradesh 2014 and Miss Cosmo World 2018.

Images of her in a bikini spread like a wildfire on Twitter, which led to her making a statement, "I represented India in Miss Bikini 2018. I was Miss Uttar Pradesh 2014 and Miss Cosmo World 2018. I request people to not merge my profession in the media industry with my political career."

The BJP slammed the Congress, calling Gautam's canditature as 'cheap publicity'.

A news report by PTI quoted UP BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi as saying, "The Congress is not having candidates, and is ready to field any candidate to garner cheap publicity and headlines. There is no feeling of serving the public behind fielding such a candidate. It also shows that there is no seriousness in them (Congress), as they have fielded an 'apolitical' candidate. It also shows the lack of maturity on their part."

Sunil Shastri

Son of former prime minister Lal Bahadur Shastri, Sunil Shastri is set to be Congress' candidate from Gorakhpur city and will face off against current Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.

Previously in the BJP, Shastri joined the BJP late in December 2021.

In 2009, Sunil Shastri had jumped from the BJP to the Congress, expressing faith in the leadership of party chief Sonia Gandhi.

Shastri had quit the Congress to join BJP in 1998 after some differences with the then party president Sitaram Kesari.

Shastri had also floated his own Jai Jawan Jai Kisan party on the principles of his father.

Pawan Kashyap

A News18 report has said that the Congress has decided to field Pawan Kashyap, brother of journalist Raman Kashyap —who was killed in the Lakhimpur Kheri violence — from the Nighasan constituency.

Raman was allegedly mowed down by the convoy of Union Minister Ajay Misra Teni’s son Ashish Misra while he was covering a farmers’ agitation in the Tikunia area in Lakhimpur Kheri on 3 October, last year.

The News18 report quotes Pawan as saying that the Congress leaders asked him if he wanted to contest the Nighasan seat and he has given his consent.

Nighasan is an OBC-dominated constituency where Shashank Verma of the BJP is the sitting MLA.

Ritu Singh

Ritu Singh, a former Samajwadi Party worker who was physically stopped from filing nomination for the panchayat election in July 2021 has been given a ticket from Mohammadi seat of Lakhimpur Kheri.

She had joined the Congress in September 2021.

Ritu Singh was the Samajwadi Party candidate for the Uttar Pradesh block pramukh polls from Pasgawan block in Lakhimpur Kheri district. Ritu Singh had accused the BJP workers of misbehaving when the SP worker was on her way to forward the nomination papers.

Ritu Singh had further alleged that the BJP workers assaulted and tore clothes of other women who accompanied her while going to the nomination office. She also alleged that the workers snatched her nomination papers, tore them and fled from the spot.

With inputs from agencies

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