Unnao rape victim’s mother, ASHA worker, anti-CAA activist Sadaf Jafar make it to Congress’ first list of candidates

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Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra released the party’s first list of 125 candidates, including 50 women, for the upcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh

Representational image. PTI

Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra on Thursday released the party’s first list of 125 candidates, including 50 women, for the upcoming Assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Addressing a press conference, she said 40 percent of the Congress candidates are women and another 40 percent are youth and by doing so the party is making a new and historic beginning.

She said the party has fielded such candidates who have struggled for seeking justice in Uttar Pradesh and the party wants them to come to the forefront and be a part of power in the state.

“With 40 percent women and 40 percent youth, we hope to start a new kind of politics in Uttar Pradesh,”she said.

“Our list gives a new message. We want to tell those who have struggled for their rights and for seeking justice in the past, that they have the power to fight for their rights and the Congress party will give that power to them to be a part of power in the state,” Vadra also said.

Some of the names mentioned in the first list drew our attention. We mention some of them below.

Unnao rape victim’s mother

Asha Singh, the mother of the 2017 Unnao rape victim has been fielded from Unnao’s Bangarmau, the same seat where Kuldeep Sengar won as a BJP candidate in 2017, and remained the lawmaker till his conviction in the case.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said that the BJP had wronged “Unnao’s daughter”. “Now, she [the rape survivor’s mother] will be the face of justice,” he tweeted.

The Unnao rape grabbed headlines across the country after the 17-year-old girl attempted to immolate herself at the residence of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in 2018 after her father was thrashed by Sengar’s brother. He died the next day.

Following outrage, a case was filed against the BJP MLA and her brother. On 7 December 2019, the rape survivor died after suffering 90 per cent burns.

She was on her way to Rae Bareli where the trial was going on when she was attacked, stabbed and then finally doused with kerosene and set ablaze in broad daylight.

She was brought to Lucknow’s Civil Hospital and was airlifted to Delhi in the evening for better treatment. However, after 40 hours of struggle, she breathed her last.

She finally received justice on 16 December 2019, when Sengar was convicted for the rape. On 20 December, he was sentenced to life imprisonment by a Delhi court and he was fined Rs 25 lakh from which Rs 15 lakh was to be paid to the state government to meet the trial and prosecution expenses. Further in March 2020, Sengar was found “guilty of culpable homicide and criminal conspiracy in her father’s death”.

ASHA worker Poonam Pandey from Shahajahanpur

The other candidate is Poonam Pandey, an Asha worker. She was allegedly roughed up by the police while trying to meet Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath in Shahjahanpur in November last year.

Talking of her candidature, Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said that Pandey led an agitation for a raise in honorarium.

Sadaf Jafar from Lucknow Central

Anti-Citizenship Amendment Act-NRC activist Sadaf Jafar has also found her way on the Congress’ first list. She will be contesting from Lucknow Central. In December 2019, she was beaten up and arrested by UP Police during the anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (anti-CAA) protests in Lucknow’s Parivartan Chowk.

Her arrest was also caught on camera where she was seen expressing shock as a policewoman comes to arrest her. “What have we done? Why are you arresting me? Why didn’t you arrest the people who were pelting stones? How can you arrest me?” Sadaf asked the woman cop when she was picked up. She was granted bail in January 2020.

Salman Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid from Farrukhabad

Former Union Minister Salman Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid has also been given a ticket.

She had made headlines in July 2021 for allegedly misappropriating over Rs 71 lakh. The amount was received in March 2010 by her charitable trust, the Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust

Uttar Pradesh will go to polls in seven phases between 10 February and 7 March, with results being declared on 10 March.

With inputs from agencies

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