With the Samajwadi Party announcing ‘choti bahu’ Aparna Yadav as its candidate for Lucknow Cantonment (Cantt) in the upcoming state elections, the battle for the constituency will be fierce as Yadav will take on sitting MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi of the BJP.
Both women are heavyweights and come from political dynasties in Uttar Pradesh. In fact, both come from a family of chief ministers. Aparna Yadav’s father-in-law Mulayam Singh Yadav is the former chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, while brother-in-law Akhilesh Yadav is the incumbent.
Joshi’s father, the late Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, was also UP chief minister. Her brother Vijay Bahuguna was the Uttarakhand chief minister.
In 2012, Joshi, then with the Congress party, had wrested the Lucknow Cantt seat from the BJP, which it had won five times since 1991. Now, she will attempt to win the seat for the BJP.
For the SP, this is the first time it is fielding someone from the Yadav clan to win the constituency, something it has never managed thus far. Twenty six-year-old Yadav will have to defeat Joshi, the sitting MLA, to achieve this.
Both women also have strong links with the academic world. Aparna has studied international politics at the University of Manchester and Rita used to teach history at Allahabad Universty.
Yadav is new to politics and Joshi is a veteran leader.
The BJP leader indicated that Aparna will have a tough fight.
“In fact, I want her to contest. People should realise that just being a member of the ruling family doesn’t mean that one has an electoral presence and one can succeed,” Joshi told Hindustan Times.
“I have developed a personal relationship with Lucknow Cantt. Added to it is the charm of Bharatiya Janata Party which has won the constituency five times in a row till I won it in 2012. I don’t think it will be difficult for me to win the seat,” Joshi said.
Aparna, who has been campaigning since March 2016, dismissed Joshi’s public connect claim.
“Rita Bahuguna has not done any work for the constituency. I got more work done, despite not being an MLA in the constituency through the government. In six months, more work was done here than what was done in the last 60 years,” she said.
“Ritaji wrote me a letter of appreciation for raising my voice in the December 16 (2012) Delhi gang rape case. Her tone changed when my party gave me the ticket for this seat. I will win.”
The Shivpal Yadav camp had announced a ticket for Aparna in March last year when the family feud was nothing more than an undercurrent. As the feud became intense, and two separate lists of candidates started coming from the SP, Aparna’s political fate looked uncertain.
Last week, the picture turned rosy for her when Akhilesh confirmed the ticket to her in his final list.
Also, in the mix is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)’s Yogesh Dixit from the constituency. As the SP-Congress have a pre-poll alliance, the Congress will not put up a candidate for this seat.
The Lucknow Cantonment is an urban constituency with 3.3 lakh voters. In the last elections in 2012, the turnout was 50.76%. This year’s polls will be held from February 11 to March 8 in seven phases.