Even as the BJP and Mayawati-led BSP has started shortlisting candidates for the upcoming urban body polls in Uttar Pradesh, the Samajwadi Party is yet to begin its candidate screening process as it awaits the Allahabad High Court’s ruling on a bunch of petitions alleging that the reservation process for the OBC (Other Backward Classes) has not been followed by the state government for the civic polls.
The Lucknow bench of the High Court on December 14 extended its interim stay order restraining the State Election Commission (SEC) from issuing notification for the urban local body elections till December 20 (Tuesday).
One of the challenges being faced by the Samajwadi Party in shortlisting its candidates is the absence of its state and district organisational units that played a crucial role in filtering the applications.
Following the party’s defeat in Lok Sabha by-elections in Rampur and Azamgarh, in July this year, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav dissolved its national, state, and district executive bodies, including its youth, traders, spokesperson, and women’s wings. Only the party’s UP chief Naresh Uttam Patel retained his post. With no local units in place, the party has now constituted a committee in each district for screening the applicants. This committee comprises the outgoing district president, local party MLAs, former MLAs, former MPs and the president of Assembly constituencies.
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“This committee has the power to take decisions on the selection of candidates for Nagar Panchayats only. For Nagar Palikas and Nagar Nigams, the party’s state and national leadership will take the decision,” said a district working president.
If there will be no consensus on one name in Nagar Panchayats, a panel of three names will be sent to the party state headquarters for taking the final call, the party functionary added.
For the applicants, the party has sent a proforma in every district to collect applications from candidates. In the proforma, a candidate has to confirm that he is an active member of the party and has taken lifetime membership of the party’s magazine “Samajwadi Bulletin”.
“Also, the ticket aspirants have to furnish details like since when he or she has been in the party and in which party programmes like dharna, agitation and others events he or she has participated so far,” said a party leader. While the party has not taken any decision on the candidates, ticket aspirants have started their campaign and put up hoardings, announcing themselves as “probable candidates”.
Buoyed by the success of its alliance with Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) in the Khatauli Assembly bypoll earlier this month and the Assembly elections in March this year, the SP has decided to continue its alliance with the RLD. For this, the party has formed a seven-member committee of MLAs and other leaders to coordinate with the RLD over the selection of candidates in west UP.
SP spokesperson Rajendra Chaudhary confirmed that the party’s alliance with RLD would continue in the civic polls and a decision on seat-sharing would be taken soon.
However, the party could face some irritants in dealing with those associated with Shivpal Singh Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party-Lohia (PSP-L).
With Shivpal merging his party following the bonhomie with nephew Akhilesh in the wake of Dimple Yadav’s win in Mainpuri Lok Sabha bypoll with a record margin, sources said accommodating PSP-L supporters and ticket aspirants for the civic polls could pose a challenge to the SP leadership.
With Shivpal’s support playing important role in Dimple’s win in Mainpuri, Akhilesh is likely to deal with the challenge cautiously. “They (PSP-L leaders) are now in SP. The party president (Akhilesh) will take a decision on them. The party is ready for civic polls,” the SP spokesperson said when asked about PSP-L ticket aspirants.
Chaudhary said that outgoing members of state and district units will have responsibilities in the civic polls and new organisational committees will be formed after the civic polls.
The performance of the SP-RLD alliance in the civic polls will be crucial ahead of the 2024 Lok Sabha elections as the alliance emerged as the main opponent to the BJP in the UP Assembly elections.
In the 2017 civic polls, the SP won 37 seats of chairperson in nagar palika parishad and 78 nagar panchayats. The party had failed to win any mayoral seat.
Currently, there are 762 urban local bodies, including 17 municipal corporations, 200 nagar palika parishads and 545 nagar panchayats across the state. There are altogether 1,420 wards in the 17 municipal corporations. The total population living under these civic bodies is 4.85 crore.