Sunday, May 3, 2009

Number game for kingmaker UP in second phase

Once the citadel of the Congress, UP became the focal point of the BJP. But both the national parties lost ground to SP and BSP. Other than Amethi, everywhere else, there is anything between three-cornered and five-cornered contests.

CJ: Arindam Roy, 23 Apr 2009 Views:1965 Comments:0

POLLING IS on in 17 parliamentary constituencies of Uttar Pradesh, on Thursday (April 23). The state is often referred to as the kingmaker of Indian politics.

UP has given the nation six prime ministers. They are Jawaharlal Nehru, Lal Bahadur Shastri, Indira Gandhi, Rajiv Gandhi, Chandrasekhar and VP Singh. Once the citadel of the Congress, it became the focal point of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), with the “Jai Sri Ram” slogan and temple issue catching up. After the 'Kamandal' was the 'Mandal'. Both the national parties lost ground to Samajwadi Party (SP) and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), in post-Mandal India.

Other than Amethi, everywhere else, there is anything between three-cornered and five-cornered contests. In most of these cases, the candidates winning would be more by default. The game spoilers (vote katwa or those who eat into the opponents votes) would play a major role. It’s like a huge game of snakes and ladders, a big gamble for any candidate / party.

Whichever party wins about nine to 10 seats in this phase would be in a comfortable position. Congress is eyeing nine seats, but it is riddled with factionalism. BJP has failed to focus on any major poll issue. The SP and BSP’s social engineering (read caste factors) are likely to play a major role, in the absence of any central election issue in this otherwise insipid election. May 16 is much awaited by one and all.

The seven key seats are:

Amethi: The crown prince of the Congress party, Rahul Gandhi has virtually no challenge here. He will surely win for the second time. His sister Priyanka was campaigning for him, while he was away for most of the time, canvassing for the party elsewhere. He is the sitting MP. Amethi has been traditionally with the Congress. The two other candidates in the fray are Ashish Shukla (BSP) and Pradip Singh (BJP). The SP has not fielded any candidate.

Sultanpur: Sanjay Singh(Congress) is hopeful of winning this seat, expecting a ripple effect of Amethi here. He is trying to capitalise on the Nehru-Gandhi family association and legacy. He has a four-cornered contest with the sitting MP Mohammad Tahir (BSP), Ashok Pandey (SP) and Surya Bhan Singh (BJP). Congress is trying to wrest this seat from BSP.

Pratapgarh: This constituency is witnessing the clash of two mafia chieftains. Atiq Ahmad, who had won the Phulpur seat for SP in the last election, was left out in the cold. He was reportedly trying to woo the BSP, according to unconfirmed reports. Lodged in jail, he has locked horns with the sitting MP Akshay Pratap Singh (SP), who has the blessings of Raghvendra Pratap Singh alias Raja Bhiaya. But with Kunda carved away from Pratapgarh due to delimitation, Ratna Singh (Congress) of Kalakankar is hopeful that in this clash of the two mafias, she may get a clear upper hand. Shiv Kant Ojha (BSP) and Laxmi Narain Pandey (BJP) have made it a five-cornered contest, making any speculation difficult.

Ambedkar Nagar: Vinay Katiyar ‘Bajrangi’ of BJP is the star attraction here. He has made the contest keen. The sitting MP Shankhlal Manjhi (SP) has been challenged by Katiyar and Rakesh Pandey (BSP) in a three-cornered fight. After delimitation, BSP has an advantage. Mayawati’s influence too is very strong here.

Jaunpur: Mafia-turned-politician Dhananjay Singh (BJP) is in a tight spot, following the mysterious death of the Indian Justice Party (IJP) candidate Bahadur Sonkar. Other than this, a tough, three-way contest is on, with the sitting MP Parasnath Yadav (SP) and Seema (BJP)

Allahabad: Ashok Bajpai (BSP), formerly Congress is giving a tough fight to the sitting MP Reoti Raman Singh (SP). His estranged wife, Ranjana Bajpai, who was with the SP is now in-charge of Allahabad BSP. Yogesh Shukla (BJP) and Shyam Krishna Pandey (Congress) are the other contenders. A three-cornered tussle is on.

Gonda: Beni Prasad Verma (Congress) has locked horns with the sitting MP Karti Vardhan Singh (BSP), Ram Pratap Singh (BJP) and Vinod Kumar Singh (SP). It’s a four-cornered contest. But the delimitation has added a sizeable number of Muslim voters.

Lesser constituencies: Ten other lesser constituencies are:

Banda: Amita Bajpai (BJP), BD Garg (Congress), BP Mishra (BSP) and RK Singh Patel (SP).

Basti: YD Singh (BJP), Basant Choudhury (Congress), Arvind Kumar Chudhury (BSP) and Raj Kishore Singh (SP).

Bhadohi: The carpet belt has Mahedra Nath Pandey (BJP), Suryamani Tripathi (Congress), Mahedra Nath Pandey (BJP) Gorakhnath (BSP) and Choteylal Bind (SP).

Domariyaganj: JP Singh (BJP), Jagdambika Pal (Congress), Mohd. Muqeem (BSP) and Mata Prasad Pandey (SP)

Faizabad: Lallu Singh (BJP), Nirmal Khatri (Congress), Raja Ayohdya (BSP) and Mitrasen Yadav (SP).

Kaushambi: Gautam Chaudhury (BJP), Ram Nihore Rakesh (Congress), Girish Chandra Pasi (BSP) and Shailendra Kumar (SP).

Phulpur: Karan Singh Patel (BJP), Dharamraj Patel (Congress), Kapil Muni Karwariya (BSP) and Shyama Charan Gupta (SP).

Qaisarganj: LP Mishra (BJP), Mohd Aleem (Congress),Surendranath Awasthi (BSP) and Brij Bhusan Saran Singh (SP).

Sant Kabir Nagar: Sharad Tripathi (BJP), Kushal Tiwari (BSP) and Bhal Chandra Yadav (SP).

Shrawasti: Satya Deo Singh (BJP), Vinay Kumar (Congress), Rizwan Zahir (BSP) and Rubab Sayeeda (SP).


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