New Delhi: BJP today named Union Minister SP Singh Baghel as its candidate against SP chief Akhilesh Yadav from Uttar Pradesh’s Karhal constituency.
Baghel is MP from Agra and is a known OBC community leader in Uttar Pradesh.
The development came hours after Yadav filed his nomination papers from the constituency.
“This nomination is a mission as this UP election will write the country’s history for the next century. Let’s take part in this movement of positive politics with progressive thinking. Defeat negative politics, remove it. Jai Hind!,” Yadav said in a Hindi tweet.
The BJP had kept its cards closed for long. However, with the name of Baghel, a heavyweight, BJP has sent the message that it wants to give a tough fight to the BJP.
Akhilesh Yadav, who also filed his nomination papers earlier today, declared, “Whoever is chosen as the BJP candidate from Karhal will lose.”
Mr Baghel had earlier fought an election against Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav and lost.
He is the Minister of State for Law and Justice.
He was revealed as the BJP candidate from Karhal virtually at the last minute when he went to the election office to submit his documents.
“It is very important to have a surprise element in elections,” the Union Minister said.
“I will fight with all my might – this is not anyone’s bastion or stronghold. I have seen Kannauj, Firozabad, and Etawa (Samajwadi strongholds) fall.”
Mr Baghel said his main campaign points would be nationalism and development. “The BJP thought about the country, removed Article 370 (which gave special status to Jammu and Kashmir),” he said.
The Karhal contest, he said, would be exciting.
Mr Baghel began his career in the Uttar Pradesh police and was in the security team of Mulayam Singh Yadav. It was the Samajwadi founder who got Mr Baghel to fight his first Lok Sabha election in 1989. He lost that year and in the next election too. He was elected for the first time in the 1998 national election.
From the Samajwadi Party, Mr Baghel first went to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati and then to the BJP.
He won the 2017 UP election and the 2019 Lok Sabha election. He was included in Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s cabinet in last year’s cabinet rejig.