Lok Sabha Elections 2019: In Ghaziabad, sitting MP Gen VK Singh has tough battle ahead
UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath held three major election rallies here, apart from a roadshow by Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat in support of VK Singh.Updated: Apr 10, 2019 09:25 IST
Former army chief and union minister Vijay Kumar Singh is trying his luck again from the Ghaziabad parliamentary constituency where unlike neighbouring parliamentary constituencies of west UP, urban voters hold the key to winning elections.
Battling the “unavailability” charge from the electorate, the former general is up against Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal alliance candidate Suresh Bansal and Dolly Sharma of the Congress. With strong caste equations in play and a high-pitched campaign from all three parties, the battle for Ghaziabad may end up as a thriller on May 23 when the results are announced.
UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath held three major election rallies here, apart from a roadshow by Uttarakhand CM Trivendra Singh Rawat in support of VK Singh. Former UP CM Akhilesh Yadav held a rally in support Bansal while Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s roadshow in favour of Dolly Sharma was a major crowd puller.
Of a total 27,28,084 voters in five segments, the Sahibabad segment has 9,49,322 voters while Ghaziabad segment has 4,48,304 voters. Both constituencies together account for more than 50% of the electorate and their support will prove crucial in deciding fate of the 12 contesting candidates.
In the remaining three segments, Loni has 4,91,379, Muradnagar 4,44,092, and Dhaulana 3,94,987. The mix of electorate is primarily semi-urban or rural.
Till 2008, Ghaziabad used to be part of Hapur parliamentary constituency which was represented four times by the Bharatiya Janata Party MP Dr Ramesh Chandra Tomar in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999. In 2004 SP Goel of the Congress won the seat, while in 2009 the newly created Ghaziabad constituency sent home minister Rajnath Singh to Parliament.
Considered a safe seat for the BJP, Ghaziabad is witnessing an interesting battle this time after the SP-BSP-RLD formed an alliance and fielded local candidate Suresh Bansal. A former BSP MLA (2012), Bansal has a marked presence among traders, general public and others besides commanding support from the BSP cadre. He was given preference over Surendra Kumar Munni, a Brahmin, who was initially offered a ticket by the SP but later the party changed its mind in favour of Bansal, a Vaish by caste.
“I have been working for people for over a decade. I have the advantage of the support from the alliance parties and will be readily available to the public. People complain that our present MP is not available. The projects he claims to have taken up were done during BSP and SP regimes. I have told people that I will be readily available to them,” Bansal said.
VK Singh, who won the last elections by a margin of 5.57 lakh votes, said he is contesting against himself and trying to better his 2014 performance.
“The projects like metro, Hindon elevated road were all struck. We worked hard and finally they took off. Project like widening of NH-24 was a long-standing demand and is finally taking shape. The civil terminal (at Hindon) has also been inaugurated. I don’t believe in appointments. People can come to meet me anytime,” Singh said.
Singh belongs to the Rajput community and his constituency falls in the Satha-Chaurasi Rajput belt.
The Congress has fielded 34-year-old Dolly Sharma, a Brahmin, who is daughter-in-law of the Ghaziabad Congress unit’s chief Narendra Bhardwaj. “I have an advantage this time as I have been actively meeting people. I continued with active politics even after losing the 2017 mayoral election. I will be working on issues such as a fee hike, employment for youth, taking up issues of farmers and the development agenda for the city,” Sharma, who is one of the two women candidates, said.
Sharma is banking on support of 6.4 lakh Brahmins in the constituency. Both SP-BSP alliance and the Congress are gunning for the 5.7 lakh Muslim votes that can turn the tide against the BJP. The alliance and Congress candidates have majorly campaigned in Muslim-dominated areas.
Of the nearly 27 lakh voters in Ghaziabad, 2.7 lakh are Rajputs, 2.5 lakh Jats and Gujjars and 3 lakh each from the Vaish and Jatav communities.
In 2014 general elections, the constituency had recorded turnout of 56.94%. The BJP during the 2017 assembly elections had won all the five assembly seats of Loni, Muradnagar, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad and Modinagar.