NEW DELHI :
RELEASING the first list of 107 candidates for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls, the BJP on Saturday fielded Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath from Gorakhpur Urban seat and his Deputy Keshav Prasad Maurya from Sirathu in Kaushambi as it expressed confidence of retaining power with a big majority. Except for Adityanath and Maurya, all the names are for 105 of the 113 seats which will go to the polls in the first two phases on February 10 and 14, with 44 of them hailing from Other Backward Classes and 19 Scheduled Castes, accounting for 60 per cent of the total. Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan told reporters the list has 63 sitting MLAs, including ministers such as Suresh Khanna, Suresh Rana and Shrikant Sharma, while 20 have made way for others. Former Uttarakhand Governor and now BJP vice-president Baby Rani Maurya, a Dalit, has been fielded from Agra (rural). Pankaj Singh, the son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh, will again contest from Noida seat.
While there was speculation that Adityanath may be fielded from Ayodhya, Pradhan said the party decided to put him in the fray from Gorakhpur, his traditional political turf which he has represented in Lok Sabha for five consecutive terms. Asked about the issue, Pradhan said the CMwas willing to contest from any of the 403 seats in the State. This is the first time Adityanath will contest Assembly polls. With the Jat-concentrated region going to the polls in the first two phases, the agrarian community, which was at the forefront of the agitation in western Uttar Pradesh against farm laws, has got 16 seats, sources said. Of the 43 seats from where general castes members have been fielded by the BJP, sources noted that 18 are Thakurs, 10 Brahmins and eight Vaishya.