Dynasty, glamour and ambition to be tested in UP (Curtain Raiser)

Written by: IANS
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Lucknow, April 22: The third round of balloting in the 12 parliamentary constituencies of Uttar Pradesh on Thursday has big names, glamour and dynasty - all mixed in a heady cocktail.

Trying their luck in this round of polling, among others, is Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav, who harbours prime ministerial ambitions.

Five time MP and three time chief minister of the state, Yadav is seeking re-election in Mainpuri, a seat he has held twice in the past. While being elected to this seat he made it to the union defence minister's chair, and this time 'neta ji' has set his eyes on 7, Race Course road.

At most of his rallies, he asks the people to forgive his son and UP Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and vote with a single aim of electing him as the next prime minister of India.

"There will be no majority for any formation and the Third Front will come together after the polls and the SP, being the biggest group after the Congress and the BJP, will be the natural choice for the top job," he told IANS.

His party holds four of the 12 seats in the outgoing Lok Sabha and the leadership has an uphill task to retain its top billing in the region.

Twelve constituencies that go to the polls Thursday are Agra, Hathras, Mainpuri, Fatehpur Sikri, Hardoi, Etawah, Mathura, Etah, Akbarpur, Firozabad, Kannauj and Farukkhabad. The SP has four seats, Congress (3), BJP (2), BSP (1) and Independent (1) in the outgoing Lok Sabha.

Dimple Yadav, Akhilesh Yadav's wife and sitting MP from Kannauj, is seeking re-election.

She won unopposed in the 2012 by-election to the Kannauj seat, vacated by Akhilesh Yadav when he became chief minister. Despite facilities like uninterrupted 24x7 electricity and a VIP tag, the going is not easy for the Yadav daughter-in-law as is evident from the fact that she hit the roads Sunday and took out a roadshow, a first for the Yadavs.

The Yadavs also face an acid test in Firozabad from where the SP's powerful general secretary, Ram Gopal Yadav, has fielded his son Akshay Pratap. Having bit the dust at the hands of Raj Babbar many years back when the actor as a Congress candidate had defeated Dimple Yadav, the party is leaving no stone unturned to become successful this time. Ramji Lal Suman, four-time SP MP, is also trying his luck from Hathras.

Mulayam's native place Etawah also goes to the polls in this round. Modi held a rally there recently and the BJP is trying to wrest this seat from the SP. Ashok Dohre of the BJP is pitted against Premdas Katheria of the SP and Hansmukhi Shankhwar of the Congress.

Yesteryear's 'dream girl' Hema Malini is also slugging it out in Mathura. A BJP candidate, she is wowing the Jat heartland with her star-studded campaign.

She is pitted against sitting MP Jayant Chowdhary, son of union Civil Aviation Minister Ajit Singh.

Amar Singh, one-time confidant of Mulayam Singh and now a Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) candidate from Fatehpur Sikri, is also trying his luck this time for the Lok Sabha.

A Rajya Sabha member, Singh is trying to score a political brownie point. During his campaign, SP leader Ramgopal Yadav has however billed Singh a "big zero".

Another face of dynastic politics - Rajveer Singh, son of former UP chief minister Kalyan Singh, is also facing a litmus test in the region. Fielded by the BJP from Etah, a 'lodh' dominated area, Kalyan Singh is sweating it out for his son, a first timer in Lok Sabha elections.

The 80-year-old leader, who quit the BJP twice in a decade, recently joined it back and is actively campaigning for the party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi.

Union External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid is also contesting again from Faruukhabad, a seat he holds currently. He faces a tough battle at the hands of BSP's Jai Veer Singh and BJP's Mukesh Rajput.

It's a close battle in Taj city Agra where BJP's Ram Shanker Katheria is pitted against Maharaj Singh Dhangar of SP and Narayan Singh of the BSP.

The largest number of voters in this round is in Kannauj - 1.77 million and the lowest number of voters is 1.55 mn in Fatehpur Sikhri.


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