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UP Assembly Election 2022: Yogi Adityanath will contest from the Gorakhpur constituency (File)Ghaziabad: Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath attacked the Samajwadi Party on Monday ahead of next month’s Assembly polls, accusing it of “giving election tickets to criminals”. The BJP, Adityanath declared, would “bring these criminals to justice” if it is re-elected.”Samajwadi Party has once again revealed its true character by giving election tickets to criminals. When BJP comes to power, we will bring these criminals to justice,” he was quoted by news agency ANI at an event in UP’s Ghaziabad.Adityanath’s barb comes a day after a Samajwadi Party candidate – Nahid Hassan, the sitting MLA from the Kairana seat – was arrested in connection with a 2021 case filed under the Gangsters Act.Mr Hassan, whose candidacy was immediately dropped by his party (in favour of his sister), was arrested while on his way to file nomination papers. Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav called his arrest a “desperate attempt” and accused the ruling party of framing his leaders and candidates.Adityanath wasn’t the only BJP leader to take a swipe at Akhilesh Yadav and the Samajwadi Party; yesterday Union Minister Anurag Thakur, while inducting former Kanpur top cop Asim Arun into the party, taunted his rivals for a candidate list that “starts with one in jail and ends with one on bail”.Mr Thakur was referring to Mr Hassan’s arrest and the release of Abdullah Azam, senior Samajwadi leader Azam Khan’s son, on bail from the Sitapur Jail.He also declared “those who ‘do’ riots join Samajwadi Party, those who catch rioters join BJP”.This was after a slew of high-profile defections – Swami Prasad Maurya, Dara Singh Chauhan, and Dharam Singh Saini, all part of the Yogi Adityanath government since 2017, have joined Mr Yadav.The back-and-forth between the current Chief Minister and his predecessor has exploded over the past few days, particularly after the BJP said Adityanath will contest from his stronghold of Gorakhpur.”Yogi Adityanath has been given a farewell by BJP…”, Mr Yadav crowed, after Adityanath aimed his “80 vs 20” jab, which was widely seen as a hint at the Hindu-Muslim ratio.Akhilesh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party has emerged as the biggest challenge to the BJP’s re-election bid, with the ex-Chief Minister’s “rainbow” alliance of regional parties threatening to oust the ruling party.UP will vote in a seven-phase poll beginning February 10, with results due March 10.With input from ANI

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