UP Assembly elections: It’s BJP vs ex-BJP for Ghaziabad Assembly constituency
The seat, considered to be a safe bet for the BJP, is being contested by Atul Garg from the saffron party and KK Shukla, who recently joined the Bahujan Samaj Party
The Ghaziabad Assembly constituency, considered a safe seat for the Bharatiya Janata Party, is seeing an interesting contest unfolding ahead of the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections beginning next month.
The fight here is between a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government, Atul Garg, and former BJP leader KK Shukla, who recently joined the Bahujan Samaj Party. The BSP has played the Brahmin card here and the party hopes that its Dalit voters will also back its choice.
The seat is being keenly watched as it is also being viewed as a contest between the dominant Baniya and the Brahmin communities. Shukla is expecting to corner not just the Dalit votes that are significant in number but also the ‘unhappy’ Brahmin votes.
In the previous two elections, there were close fights between the BJP and BSP on the seat.
In 2012, BSP’s Suresh Bansal defeated BJP’s Atul Garg.
In the 2017 Assembly polls, Garg beat Bansal. Sources said that Bansal was asked to contest the polls this time again by the BSP, but he refused, citing poor health. The BSP then named BJP rebel KK Shukla.
Shukla was a worker of the saffron party for almost three decades and had earlier contested the Ghonda assembly polls unsuccessfully. He was the party’s youth president in western UP and held many posts in the organisation.
According to Shukla, Garg, who is the minister of state for medicine and health, family welfare, and women and child welfare, was unavailable for people during COVID-19. “He did not pick calls from any of us and had disappeared throughout COVID. He did not even provide safe drinking water to the poor in bastis,” said Shukla, claiming that a majority of BJP workers are with him.
Voices from the BJP appear divided. A senior leader said that despite divisions, BJP cadres work for the party and with BSP’s Bansal exiting from the contest, the victory should be smooth for Garg despite the rupture.
“We are BJP workers and that is the bottom line,” added a senior BJP leader.
Garg said Shukla contesting against him is a mistake and that the fight should not be seen as BJP vs BJP.
“In every family, people become overambitious and cross their limits and this has happened in the party as well but those people have always come back to the party,” said the BJP candidate.
Garg has been asking people to voice their complaints against him but vote for the BJP “for CM Yogi’s sake".
Addressing a small gathering of 10-15 workers, he said that he received a call from the chief minister, asking about the seat and he told him that people were voting in the name of Yogi.
Soon, a karyakarta (worker) stood up from his seat and told Garg that they have some complaints but that they know they have to get Yogi voted back to power, and once Garg wins, they will come to him for their work.
Speaking to News18.com, Garg rejected all allegations of not being available during COVID. When asked about Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s allegations of lack of oxygen during the pandemic, the minister hit back.
“Everyone knows that the Opposition was sitting in their homes and BJP workers, leaders and ministers risked their lives to reach out to the needy. People also know that the states ruled by Opposition like Maharashtra and Kerala have seen the worst of COVID mismanagement. In Kejriwal’s Delhi, the situation was bad. If you make a comparative chart, UP fared well," said Garg, admitting that he is asking for votes in the name of Yogi.
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