BSP, banking on votes of Dalits, has fielded a Brahmin candidate in Mukul Upadhayay aimed at wooing upper castes. The party is also eyeing a good percentage of Muslim votes. Having a reputation of being 'kaam ka admi', Upadhayay, a sitting member of the UP legislative assembly, however, bears the 'outsider' tag. But same is the case with other main contenders in the fray.
Neither BJP's nominee Gen V K Singh is from the district nor is Raj Babbar of Congress. Samajwadi Party's Sudhan Rawat and AAP's Shazia Ilmi Malik are also 'outsiders'.
In all, 15 candidates are in the fray in a constituency having 23.55 lakh voters, 40 per cent of which are women. Rural and urban votes are almost evenly divided.
BSP has fielded Mukul Upadhayay, a Brahmin candidate, to woo upper castes.
Locals say AAP, contesting for the first time in the Lok Sabha election, may not get the desired support even as the constituency is the nerve centre of the party as it has lost the faith of the people. However, there are some pockets where it can give both BJP and Congress a good run for their money.
BJP is also unlikely to cut much ice with voters mainly due to sitting MP Rajnath Singh's perennial absence from the constituency. Eyebrows were raised among BJP functionaries after the party chose to field the former army chief from here. Corruption charges are the biggest impediment for Congress so much so that its tie-up with Ajit Singh-led RLD may not even ensure Jat votes.
The Muzaffarnagar riots and the Supreme Court blaming the Akhilesh Yadav government for the violence have may affect the prospects of the Mulayam Singh-led party.
SP did not fare well either in the 2012 assembly election in the constituency. It managed to win just the Dholana seat where its candidate got a little over 9,000 votes more than his BSP rival.
The party, ruling in Uttar Pradesh now, came second in Muradnagar and fourth in Loni, Ghaziabad and Sahibabad. Sahibabad has the largest voters among the five assembly seats in Ghaziabad. Consisting of a sizeable urban voters who are residing mainly at Kaushambi, Vaishali, Vasundhara and Indirapuram areas, Sahibabad has the potential to make a difference. With voters' profile almost on par with Delhi, AAP may get a slice of the pie in Sahibabad, so as Congress and BJP.
BSP, which won from here in the assembly election with a margin of nearly 25,000 votes, has also good prospect. The margin of BSP's win from Loni was even higher at 25,248 votes during the last assembly poll. Loni comprises Muslims, Dalits and Gujjars. BSP won by 12,121 votes in Ghaziabad, which has a large number of Muslim voters.
There are also Dalits, Vaishyas and Brahmins. Muradnagar, which sent BSP candidate to Uttar Pradesh assembly with a margin of just 3,622 votes, can also throw a mix response. Considering the waning charm of SP, the fight is likely here between BSP, BJP and AAP here. "This time, the writing on the wall is clear.
BSP's Mukul Upadhyay has clearly an edge over others. AAP had potential to make a difference, but its mishandling of Delhi, is going against the party," said Surojit Prajapati, a tea-stall owner in Vaishali. BJP won the seat in 1998 and 1999 while Congress' Surendra Prakash Goyal won in 2004 before Rajnath Singh wrested it back in 2009.
One of the fastest growing cities, Ghaziabad lags on basic amenities and infrastructure. The NH-24 connecting with Delhi often poses problems for over a lakh daily commuters. The arterial roads inside the constituency are dingy. Cleanliness is Greek and Latin to the people here. Primary health-care system is not up to the mark and voters feel candidates with a development plank will do better.