The Congress on Thursday released its first list of 125 candidates who will contest the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections.

Fifty of the candidates are women, in accordance with the party’s announcement from October 19 that it will give 40% of the tickets to women.

“Our attempt has been to choose candidates will work towards a new form of politics,” Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra said in a virtual press conference.

She added, “Among the women who have been named as candidates, some are journalists, some are women who have been engaged in struggles, some are social workers, and some are those who faced enormous atrocities.”

The party has fielded the mother of the Unnao rape complainant from the Unnao Assembly constituency. “We have given her an opportunity so that she can continue her struggle,” Vadra said.

Expelled Bharatiya Janata Party MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar has been convicted in the rape case.

“The person whose daughter suffered injustice at the hands of the Bharatiya Janata Party will become the face of justice,” Congress leader Rahul Gandhi said on Twitter. “She will fight, and will win!”

In July, the complainant in the Unnao rape case was involved in a car crash in which two of her aunts, one who was a crucial witness in the rape case, were killed. The complainant and her lawyer were also severely injured, and the family had alleged Sengar was behind the car crash. There is a case of conspiracy currently ongoing in this regard.

The woman’s father had also been arrested in an illegal arms case, in which he was later found to have been framed in April 2018. He died in judicial custody a few days later and a murder case was filed against Sengar, his brother and nine others.

Other candidates

The Congress has also named Ramraj Gond as its candidate from the Sonbhadra constituency. Gond had been a part of the protests against the killing of 11 Adivasi farmers in the district’s Umbha village in July 2019.

The party has named its worker Sadaf Jafar as a candidate from Lucknow Central. She had taken part in protests against the Citizenship Amendment Act and the National Register of Citizens.

Jafar had been arrested in connection with the protests on December 19, 2019, and was granted bail on January 4, 2020. After she was released from jail, she alleged torture and abuse in police custody.

From Shahjahanpur, the Congress has named an Accredited Social Health Activist, Poonam Pandey, as its candidate. The party alleged that Pandey was badly beaten up by the police during a protest seeking an increase in ASHA workers’ honorarium.