The electoral battle for Lucknow Cantonment assembly constituency is set to be interesting as two heavyweights – one of them new to politics and the other a veteran – are set to lock horns.
On this seat, Samajwadi Party’s Aparna Yadav, 26, Chhoti Bahu of the Yadav family, will try to wrest the seat from sitting BJP MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi.
Aparna’s father-in-law Mulayam Singh Yadav is the former chief minister of UP while Joshi’s father, late Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna also served as the state’s chief minister.
Another prominent candidate in fray is Yogesh Dixit (53) of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) who is leaving no stone unturned to woo the voters.
With only a few days remaining for polling, the candidates are going all out to cover each and every area of the constituency – meeting voters on the streets, visiting door to door, addressing gatherings and attending functions.
Lucknow Cantonment was the stronghold of the Congress till 1991 after which it remained with the Bharatiya Janata Party till 2012.
In the last assembly election, Rita Joshi won the seat for Congress by defeating BJP’s Suresh Chandra Tewari by a margin of over 21,000 votes. This time round, Joshi has herself switched loyalty and is contesting on the seat as a BJP candidate. The voter turnout in 2012 was 50.76%.
Brahmin, Thakur votes crucial
Brahmin votes have always been a deciding factor in the constituency. Out of 3,20,755 registered voters – 1,73,740 male and 1,46,998 female – nearly 80,000 are Brahmins.
There are nearly 40,000 Thakur voters in the constituency who can also play an important role in the poll outcome. Dalit voters are strong in areas such as Bhim Nagar, Barha, Aashiana, and Telibagh. Vaishya and backward community also have their pockets of strength.
There are around 10 per cent Muslim voters in Lucknow Cantonment and have a strong presence in Sadar, Hussainganj, Charbagh, Alambagh, Sardari Khera and Mawaiyya.
In terms of profession, Lucknow Cantonment has a mix of voters including government employees, traders, army men, government secretariat employees, professionals and daily wagers.
Aparna eyes youth support
This is for the first time that a member of the Yadav family is contesting from a seat which has never been won by the Samajwadi Party. The Yadav family is banking on the support of Muslims, other backward classes and the Sikh community. Being a young candidate, Aparna is likely to garner good support from the youth.
Aparna is wooing young voters by promising development and creating job opportunities.
“Since my party has bestowed responsibility of the constituency on me, I have done more work in the area than Rita Bahuguna. In fact, Ritaji wrote a letter of appreciation to me for raising voice in Nirbhaya case. Her tone changed when my party fielded me from this constituency. I am sure to win as people have seen me working for them without being an MLA,” she said.
Joshi banking on personal ties with voters
“My biggest advantage is my personal relationship with the people of the area. I am the candidate of a party which has bagged the constituency five times. I think it would not be difficult for me to win the seat,” said Joshi.
“People should realise that being member of the ruling family does not ensure success and electoral presence,” she added.
Meanwhile, BSP’s Yogesh Dixit, a builder, said: “I live in this area and I am the only one who is in direct touch with voters. None of the two women candidates are available to people on phone.”