he Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has finalised all its 80 candidates in Uttar Pradesh for the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Party sources said that at least 10% of these candidates would be Muslims. They also said that while the relatives and family members of some BSP leaders would contest the elections, no one from party chief Mayawati's family would do so.
Senior BSP leader Naseemuddin Siddiqui said that the party would soon release the list of its candidates. "We have decided on all our candidates. As soon as the final draft is ready and Mayawatiji gives her nod, we will make our candidates public," Siddiqui said.
Elaborating on the strategy adopted to select the candidates, a senior BSP leader, who also advises Mayawati on political affairs, said that the BSP chief herself made sure that a minimum of 10% tickets were allotted to Muslims. "Behenji wants to bring back the Muslim electorate she has lost to the Samajwadi Party in the last Assembly elections. She was firm in her decision that at least 10% representation should be from the community. The final list may have more Muslim candidates," he said.
He said that the party would retain all established Muslim leaders like Shafiqur Rehman Barq, Kadir Rana and Rizwan Zaheer. "Besides, many new faces such as Naseemuddin Siqqui's son Afzal will make a debut in the next elections," he added.
"Behenji has made it clear that no one from her family is going to contest the elections. But she is not averse to other party leaders fielding their relatives. Senior leader Swami Prasad Maurya's daughter, Naseemuddin's son, Ramvir Upadhyay's brother and wife have been chosen to represent different constituencies," said Ram Achal Rajbhar, a senior BSP leader.