Taking a lead over its rivals, Congress on Saturday declared senior advocate and Congress leader Dr OP Sharma as the party candidate from Meerut-Hapur Lok Sabha seat. Sharma has an experience of over four decades in active politics.

While the alliance candidate is likely to be BSP’s Yusuf Qureshi, the BJP is yet to decide its candidate. Rajendra Aggarwal is BJP’s sitting MP.

In its fourth list of candidates announced on Saturday night, Congress leadership declared candidates which include OP Sharma from Meerut, former MP Harendra Malik from Muzaffarnagar, Dr Arvind Singh from Gautam Budh Nagar, Indira Bhati from Bijnor and Chaudhary Brijendra Singh from Aligarh seats.

While thanking the party leadership for showing faith in him, Sharma said that for the first time, the party in Meerut has given the ticket to someone who is a grassroots level worker and expressed confidence that Congress will win the election.

Congress’s Avatar Singh Bhadana had won the Lok Sabha election from Meerut in 1999. Ever since the party could not put up a fight from here. In the 2014 General Elections, film actress Nagma, who contested on a Congress ticket, finished at fourth place.

Even though Nagma was active in the constituency in spite of losing the election, the leadership this time decided to give the ticket to a local candidate who knows the pulse of the local population, said veteran Congress leader and advocate Prakash Chand Sharma.

OP Sharma has been associated with the Congress since the past four decades. He was the president of Youth Congress at Meerut from 1972-76. He was the media in-charge of former Congress MPs from here, vis-à-vis Mohsina Kidwai and Avatar Singh Bhadana and legal advisor to Nagma. He was also the president of the Meerut Bar Association from 2004-05 and also a member of the Supreme Court Bar Association. He also worked as a trade union leader and held many important posts.