LUCKNOW: Putting speculations to rest, the BJP on Tuesday announced the candidature of Raghuraj Singh Shakya and Akash Saxena for Mainpuri and Rampur by polls necessitated following the demise of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and disqualification of SP veteran Azam Khan from UP assembly, respectively. The saffron outfit also named Raj Kumari Saini, wife of disqualified BJP MLA Vikram Saini, from Khatauli assembly seat in Muzaffarnagar.
Raghuraj (52) happens to be the former SP MLA from Etawah and is known to be close to SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s estranged uncle Shivpal Yadav. Shakya, who will take on Akhilesh’s wife Dimple in Mainpuri by polls, had resigned from the SP following a roiling rift in the Yadav clan in 2016 and later joined Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (Lohia) floated by Shivpal. Shakya subsequently joined the BJP just before the 2022 assembly elections.
In Rampur, the BJP fielded Akash Saxena, who was the main complainant in the hate speech case against Azam. He had contested against Azam in the 2022 assembly elections but lost by a margin of over 55,000 votes. A known baitor of Khan family, Akash had complained against Azam’s son Abdullah Azam accusing him of submitting the wrong date of birth certificate while contesting 2017 assembly elections from Suar. The Allahabad high court eventually set aside Abdullah’s assembly membership with effect from December 16, 2019.
Likewise, in the case of Khatauli assembly seat, the BJP fielded Rajkumari Saini, wife of BJP MLA Vikram Saini who got disqualified following his conviction in 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots. Raj Kumari, who will be up against RLD’s Madan Bhaiyya, has been the gram pradhan of Kawal village in Muzaffarnagar between 2005 and 2010. BJP sources said that the Saini family enjoys considerable support in the assembly seat having substantial population of OBCs, Jats and Gurjar.

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