One was new to politics, the other a veteran. But both were heavyweights in their own right, coming from commanding political dynasties.
Samajwadi Party’s Aparna Yadav, 26, known as ‘Chhoti Bahu’, was attempting to wrest the prestigious Lucknow Cantonment seat from sitting MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who switched loyalty from the Congress to the BJP late last year.
But as trends and results poured in on Saturday, it became clear that the veteran Joshi had grabbed a decisive lead over the novice, whose gamble of winning a non-secure seat appeared to have failed.
Talking to Hindustan Times, Joshi said, “I have developed a personal relationship with Lucknow Cantonment. Added to it is the charm of BJP, which has won the constituency five times in a row till I won it in 2012. I knew that it will be easy for me to win the seat.”
Aparna’s father-in-law Mulayam Singh Yadav is the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh. Joshi’s father, the late Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, too, was the UP chief minister. Aparna’s brother-in-law Akhilesh Yadav is the incumbent UP chief minister. Joshi’s brother Vijay Bahuguna had been the Uttarakhand chief minister.
Both also have strong links to the academic world. Aparna has studied international politics at the University of Manchester and Joshi is a retired history professor of Allahabad University.
Joshi is also turning out to be the top turncoat winner of this season in UP.
For the first time, the Samajwadi Party (SP) fielded a Yadav clan member for a seat that it has never won before. Joshi wrested the Lucknow Cantonment seat from BJP in 2012. Earlier, the BJP had won the seat five times since 1991.
Aparna had a headstart in campaigning as SP had announced ticket to her in March 2016 itself, while Joshi got the ticket shortly before the poll notification.
The Shivpal Yadav camp had announced a ticket for Aparna in March last year when the SP feud was nothing more than an undercurrent.
When the feud became intense, and two separate lists of candidates started coming from the SP and Aparna’s political fate looked uncertain. The picture turned rosy for her when Akhilesh Yadav confirmed the ticket to her in his final list. But the BJP giving the ticket to Joshi had made Lucknow Cantt a level-playing field.
Mulayam’s elder daughter-in-law Dimple Yadav, too, had lost her first election to Congress’ Raj Babbar in Firozabad Lok Sabha by-polls in 2009.