LS polls: Direct contest likely between SP, BJP in Meerut

| | Lucknow
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LS polls: Direct contest likely between SP, BJP in Meerut

Wednesday, 03 April 2024 | PNS | Lucknow

It is likely to be a direct contest between the Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party in the Meerut Lok Sabha constituency.
The Samajwadi Party on Monday changed its candidate and replaced Bhanu Pratap Singh with Sardhana MLA Atul Pradhan.
Pradhan is known as a “giant killer” as he had defeated Sangeet Som of the BJP in the 2022 UP assembly polls. Arun Govil, who played the role of Bhagwan Ram in Ramayana, is the BJP candidate in Meerut.
SP president Akhilesh Yadav had to change the candidate following the vehement opposition mounted by the party cadres against Bhanu Pratap Singh.
Pradhan’s entry, SP insiders say, will ensure that the Meerut contest is not one-sided, as it seemed likely with “outsider” Bhanu Singh in the race.
While Pradhan unsuccessfully contested the Sardhana assembly seat several times starting 2012, in the 2022 assembly polls, he had defeated firebrand BJP leader Sangeet Som by a margin of over 18,000 votes.
Expressing his gratitude to SP president Akhilesh Yadav for giving the ticket to him from the Meerut Lok Sabha seat, Pradhan said, “We will continue our fight for the poor, youth and farmers. I was born and brought up in Meerut, a place which has been my ‘karma bhoomi’ since my student days.”
A member of the Gurjar community, Pradhan (41) has been associated with the SP since he graduated from Chaudhary Charan Singh University. He was previously the president of SP’s Chhatra Sabha (student wing).
Pradhan’s wife Seema was elected Sardhana zila parishad chief in 2015 and last year, she unsuccessfully contested the Meerut mayoral polls with the SP’s backing.
The SP’s decision to field Bhanu Singh initially from the seat had stumped party leaders. A Supreme Court lawyer and a resident of Sahibabad, near Delhi, Singh had contested the 2017 assembly polls from Sikandrabad seat as a candidate of the Rashtriya Janhit Sangharsh Party, an outfit he floated, and polled just over 1,000 votes.
Singh is a Supreme Court lawyer and has been vocal against the use of electronic voting machines (EVMs), which he claims are not foolproof.
“We were surprised that the party fielded Singh, who is not only an outsider but enjoys no mass support in his home turf. His candidature had triggered resentment among workers. The Meerut seat would have been a one-sided contest had Singh not been replaced with Pradhan, who is an active leader,” former SP Meerut chief Rajpal Singh said.
The Meerut Lok Sabha seat has an estimated 35% Muslim voters while Jats and Gujjars, who fall in the OBC category, are around 11% and 5% respectively. Scheduled Castes (SCs) form a significant chunk with around 19% of voters.
What goes against Atul Pradhan is that Sardhana is not an assembly segment of the Meerut Lok Sabha seat and is a part of the Muzaffarnagar Lok Sabha constituency.
The BJP is banking on not just Govil’s appeal as the actor who played Ram in the widely popular TV serial Ramayana, but also that he is a local. He was born in Meerut.

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