Lucknow: Home Minister Rajnath Singh files his nomination papers in Uttar Pradesh capital Lucknow today for the Lok Sabha polls, but he doesn’t have a rival in sight. The opposition is yet to come up with a candidate against him, which begs the question whether the former BJP president, who is seeking re-election from Lucknow, will have a walkover on the prestigious seat held in the past by stalwarts like former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Nominations close in two days for Lucknow, where voting will take place on May 6.
Rajnath Singh won the 2009 Lok Sabha polls from western UP’s Ghaziabad but shifted to Lucknow for the 2014 polls. He will lead a roadshow to the office of the district magistrate before filing his papers. The plan was for Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath to accompany him, but a 72-hour Election Commission ban on him over a controversial speech means his deputies will join the Home Minister instead.
In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, UP minister Rita Bahuguna Joshi, then with the Congress, was Rajnath Singh’s biggest challenger. She managed about 2,80,000 votes to Rajnath Singh’s 5,60,000. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) came third while the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav was fourth.
The BJP has won the Lucknow seat continuously since 1991; Atal Behari Vajpayee represented the constituency from 1991 to 2009, until he retreated from active politics.
In this election, the seat has gone to the Samajwadi Party’s quota following its “gathbandhan” or alliance with the BSP. “We will make an announcement soon. On a seat like Lucknow, I am willing to take a risk. I want to look beyond the usual caste combination here. The question is whether it will work or not,” Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav told the media last week on speculation that actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha could be his party’s candidate. Her name has not been announced by party yet.
Shatrughan Sinha quit the BJP, his party of three decades, recently and joined the Congress.
The Congress has also not announced a candidate from the capital of the 80-seat state, where it is attempting a revival by bringing in heavy-duty leaders like Priyanka Gandhi Vadra and Jyotiraditya Scindia to lead its campaign.