A keen four-cornered contest is in the offing between the member of an erstwhile royal family, an outgoing MP with several cases of murder against him, a five-time MLA and a candidate who last won 25 years ago in Faizabad parliamentary constituency.
With such a heady mix of candidates, the fight in the constituency promises to be interesting. Moreover, the constituency’s profile has changed post-delimitation with an increase in the number of Muslim voters.
Vimlendra Mohan Mishra, who belongs to the Ayodhya royal family and is in his 50s, is undergoing his electoral baptism in these polls.
“I have never been associated with any political party. This is the first time I am contesting an election. I cannot tell you anything more,” he said. When asked about his priority, he said, “Development”.
His associate, Ashok Singh said, “The Ram temple may be an issue for BJP, not for us. We want to see Mayawati become Prime Minister.” BSP is upbeat in this constituency as post-delimitation, Rudauli Vidhan Sabha constituency, which has a sizeable minority population-- is now a part of Faizabad Lok Sabha seat.
Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav joined hands with Kalyan Singh, BSP’s Muslim face Naseemuddin Siddique -- a minister in Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati’s cabinet has been campaigning in Faizabad.
BJP has won from this constituency in 1991 (at the height of the Ram temple movement), 1996 and 1999. These three victories were largely due to its candidate Vinay Katiyar, who as Bajrang Dal chief was allegedly involved in the demolition of the Babri mosque on December 6, 1992. But he had to face defeat in 1998 at the hands of Mitrasen Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.
Katiyar is contesting from Ambedkar Nagar this time while Mitrasen, who won the last election on a BSP ticket, is in the fray from Faizabad as the SP candidate.
In the 2004 polls, Mitrasen, now 75, won against Lallu Singh of the BJP. Mitrasen has several cases of crime, including murder, against him. “He was once given a Presidential pardon in a murder case,” a policeman claimed.
However, many feel Mitrasen, who has changed parties several times may still spring a surprise. Since SP banks on the secular votes, Mitrasen keeps the temple issue at bay.
MLA from Ayodhya constituency five times, is fighting his second Lok Sabha election. Even he puts development before the Ram temple issue.
“My first priority is development of this constituency. Also building a grand Ram temple at Ayodhya and all the issues --like rice at Rs 2 --mentioned in the BJP manifesto,” he said. Asked why he lost in 2004, Singh said, “You can draw your own conclusions. I got the ticket just a few days before the polling day.”
Congress candidate Nirmal Khatri won way back in 1984 but locals say that was because there was a sympathy wave for his party after the assassination of Indira Gandhi.
Khatri is a popular candidate and many feel he will perform well in the urban sectors of the constituency, something which is a cause of worry to the BJP.