NEW DELHI: Asha Singh, the mother of the 2017 Unnao rape victim, is among the candidates who will contest for Congress in the forthcoming assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh. The party on Thursday rolled out its first list of 125 candidates for the polls, which includes as many as 50 women contestants.
While announcing Asha Singh’s candidature, Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said, “Against the government which oppressed them and harassed them in various ways, may she take that power into her own hands and fight for her rights.”
Assembly elections in the crucial state that is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) will be held in seven phases from February 10 to March 7, it was announced during the weekend.
Shortly after Priyanka Gandhi made the announcement on Thursday, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi tweeted, “In Unnao, whose daughter was wronged by the BJP, now she will become the face of justice… she will fight, she will win!”
The gang-rape of a 17-year-old girl in UP’s Unnao made headlines and sparked protests around the country five year ago. The long-drawn case saw the victim attempting suicide outside CM Yogi Adityanath’s residence. Much later, former BJP member Kuldeep Singh Sengar was convicted for the rape and sent to life imprisonment. He was also found guilty in the death of the rape victim’s father in judicial custody.
Other Congress candidates for the coming polls announced on Thursday include Ramraj Gond, who once led the Gond tribals’ legal battle in Sonbhadra, and Congress leader Sadaf Jafar, who was arrested during protests in UP over the CAA-NRC controversy.
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The Congress has also given a ticket to Poonam Pandey, who was once allegedly beaten by police while seeking to meet Adityanath last year.
Priyanka Gandhi said, “Our list is sending a message that if you have been oppressed, then you have the power in you to fight it. In Uttar Pradesh, the Congress will give you this power and will support you in every way so that you can fight your battles, come to politics, take the power and protect your rights.”
She pointed out that 40% of the first-list candidates are women and 40% are youth. “With this historic initiative, we hope to bring in a new kind of politics in the state,” she said.