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|February 5, 1998|
BSP leads the pack with 14 Muslim candidates in UP
The Bahujan Samaj Party has once again fielded the maximum number of 14 Muslim candidates among non-BJP parties in Uttar Pradesh for the general election.
Though the total number of candidates in the state has slumped to 1,037 for the 85 seats, the number of Muslim candidates in the fray has remained at 108. There are no Muslim candidates in many constituencies.
Even in Faizabad, not a single Muslim has entered the poll arena, although in the last election the BSP's Muslim nominee had secured about 100,000 votes there.
Against 14 BSP nominees, the Samajwadi Party has fielded 13 and the Congress 12 Muslims.
The BJP-Samata Party alliance had nominated Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, a resident of Allahabad, from the Rampur Lok Sabha constituency, against Begum Noor Bano alias Mehtab Zamani Begum of the Congress, who is seeking re-election from the seat traditionally held by her late husband, the nawab of Rampur, Zulfiqarullah Khan.
In the dissolved Lok Sabha, there were six Muslim members from Uttar Pradesh, four of them belonging to the Samajwadi Party and one each to the Congress and the BSP.
However, BSP candidate Ilyas Azmi (Shahabad) is now trying his electoral luck on the Samajwadi Party ticket following his expulsion from the BSP.
Former Union minister Arif Mohammad Khan, former Uttar Pradesh minister Muid Ahmed and Fareed Mahfooz Qidwai are among the prominent Muslim candidates. They are contesting from Bahraich, Sultanpur and Kaiserganj seats respectively.
The Samajwadi Party list has some better known figures like Mukhtar Anees (Sitapur), two-time Uttar Pradesh minister, Dr Shafiqur Rehman Barq (Moradabad) and Salim Sherwani (Budaun), presently minister of state for external affairs.
Besides, Mulayam Singh Yadav has pitted film-maker Muzzafar Ali against veteran BJP leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee in Lucknow and Abdul Rauf Siddique against veteran Congress leader Narain Dutt Tewari in Nainital.
Ajmal Noorani is the Samajwadi Party nominee against Kalpnath Rai in Ghosi constituency and Rizwan Zaheer, a BSP defector is contesting the election from the Balrampur seat as the Samajwadi Party nominee.
Among the prominent candidates of the Congress party are former minister of state for external affairs Salman Khurshid (Farrukhabad), Shahid Siddique, a journalist-turned-politician from Muzaffarnagar and former Uttar Pradesh minister Ammar Rizvi (Sitapur).
The Rampur Lok Sabha constituency is the only seat in Uttar Pradesh where all the prominent main parties including the BJP and BSP have fielded Muslim nominees.
Rashid Masood, former minister, is contesting as a candidate of Ajit Singh's Bharatiya Kisan Kamgar Party (BKKP), challenging BSP supremo Kanshi Ram in Saharanpur constituency.
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