Will Nawabi fortress fall to B'wood glamour?
For a title clash between an "outsider" actress and a local royalty, Rampur seems an unlikely podium.
For, this dusty rural segment that holds the distinction of being perhaps the only constituency in the country to have returned Muslim candidates on all but one occasion during the past two decades, is the scene of a contest between larger-than-life descendant of erstwhile Nawabs of Rampur, Begum Noor Bano and film star Jaya Prada.
Jaya Prada, who migrated from Andhra Pradesh after being refused a second term in Rajya Sabha by the Telgu Desam Party, is seeking to liberate Rampur from the "slavery" of Nawabs but she may need much more than the support of her party supremo 'Maulana' Mulayam Singh Yadav to swing the 42 per cent of the Muslim voters in the constituency of 15 lakh who have always gone with the Nawab family.
Except for 1991, when Rajendra Kumar Sharma of BJP defeated Zulfikar Khan (Cong), the Rampur has sent only Muslim candidates to Lok Sabha. With Nawabs siding with Congress, Rampur has been one of its bastions for ages. BJP won this seat for only the second time in 1998 when its Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi defeated Noor Bano by less than 5000 votes.
Noor Bano had her revenge in 1999 when she defeated Naqvi by 1.15 lakh votes.
But this time the fight is not between Congress and BJP, which may be relegated to the fourth position this time. BSP has made the contest between Congress and Samajwadi Party murkier by fielding former Congressman Afroz Ali Khan.