Sunday, May 24, 2009

Backstabbing and glamour mark final poll phase in UP

A wronged cine-actress-turned-politician Jaya Prada is defending her honour, while a former cricketer, Azharuddin, is trying his luck in politics. SP's stake is high, while other parties are eying gains in the final phase of polls in UP.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 13 May 2009 Views:393 Comments:1

SLANDER, SLEAZE, knives and backstabbing – these are the five words that capture the ethos of the Rampur Lok Sabha constituency, as polling is on, for 14 constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, in the fifth and final phase, on Wednesday (May 13).

The damsel in distress is the cine-actress-turned-politician Jaya Prada, a high profile Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate. She blamed Azam Khan for circulating her morphed nude pictures. She was in tears, was furious and gentle by turns adding to the melodrama of this constituency. Jaya, the sitting MP’s fight is at several levels, both inter and intra-party clashes, her honour and dignity questioned. It’s sad that the Election Commission took no notice of the terribly disgusting level of politics in this city, well known for its knives.

Noor Bano, of the princely family of Rampur, is the Congress candidate, pitted against Jaya Prada. The infighting in SP may be to her advantage, as Congress openly wooed Azam Khan, while the SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav had to handle him with a velvet glove, despite his open spat with Amar Singh. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is contesting on BJP ticket. He may be a surprise winner in this fight between these two ladies, Jaya Prada and Noor Bano, feel political observers.

Mohd. Azharauddin has one thing common with Jaya Prada; they both belong to Andhra Pradesh but have made UP their political battleground. Azharuddin is another celebrity, a former cricket captain of India, who is contesting polls from Moradabad, on Congress ticket. Though a large crowd had been following the cricketer, all during his campaign, it needs to be seen if he can convert his popularity into victory. During an interview to a prominent TV channel, Azhar said that he has asked his voters to think the polling to be a Ten10 cricket match (not even Twenty20), go out early and vote in his favour. He also added that in cricket, selection depends on five persons but in a poll it's lakhs that decide the fate of the candidate. It needs to be seen if Azhar is accepted by the city well known globally for its brassware.

The poster boy of BJP, Varun Gandhi, the new angry young man, is contesting from Pilibhit. His candidature was mired in controversy. Giving him a tough fight is his estranged kin VM Singh, one of the richest candidates, fielded by the Congress. Sources in BJP say that Varun is being seen as a future chief ministerial candidate of UP.

Maneka Gandhi, Varun’s mother, is contesting from Aonla on BJP ticket. She seemingly has no contest and it may be a cakewalk for her.

Saleem Shervani is the Congress candidate from Badaun. A former Allahabad-based industrialist, he quit the SP to contest on Congress ticket. His father MR Shervani was close to former PM Jawaharlal Nehru and the family has had a long history of Congress association. How the prodigal son of Congress fares, needs to be seen.

A new seat, Nagina, has been added after delimitation. In 2004, the tally of 13 seats, going to polls today, show that SP had the lion’s share, with six seats in its kitty. In fact, all others, BJP, Congress, BSP, Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), JD (U) and independent had one seat each.

While SP’s stake is highest, BSP is eying a few more seats from this part of UP. This part of UP has large percentage of Muslim voters. Yadav’s hold would be put to test, as it is to be seen if Muslims still support him after his friendly embrace with the Babri Masjid demolition convict Kalyan Singh. If Congress does better, it would prove beyond doubt that Yadav’s gamble did not pay off.

BJP hopes to win the two seats of mother and sin duo from Aonla and Pilibhit. It is also hopeful that Naqvi may spring a surprise in Rampur.

The 14 constituencies going to polls in the last phase are: Amroha, Aonla, Bijnor, Bareilly, Badaun, Dhaurhara, Kheri, Moradabad, Nagina, Pilibhit, Rampur, Saharanpur, Samhal and Sahahjahanpur.

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