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Sunday, Oct 20, 2019

Lok Sabha Elections 2019: National issues, not caste, may hold the key in Prayagraj

The punch line for the 1984 Lok Sabha election in Allahabad was ‘Mere angne mein tumhara kya kaam hai’ -- a song from one of Bachchan’s movie Lawaaris (1981).

lok-sabha-elections Updated: Mar 19, 2019 09:46 IST
Kenneth John
Kenneth John
Hindustan Times, Prayagraj
The millennium star Amitabh Bacchan campaigning during 1984 Lok Sabha elections from Allahabad parliamentary seat
The millennium star Amitabh Bacchan campaigning during 1984 Lok Sabha elections from Allahabad parliamentary seat(HT)

As he moved through the sea of enthusiastic fans, including thousands of women who had laid down their ‘dupattas’ on the path which he had to tread during canvassing, Bollywood actor Amitabh Bachchan challenged seasoned politician Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna of the Dalit Mazdoor Kisan Party in Allahabad in his inimitable style.

The punch line for the 1984 Lok Sabha election in Allahabad was ‘Mere angne mein tumhara kya kaam hai’ -- a song from one of Bachchan’s movie Lawaaris (1981).

It was the time when the Congress party was riding high on sympathy wave after the assassination of former Prime Minister Indira Gandhi.

Proving political analysts wrong, Bachchan, a political non-entity had defeated a seasoned politician and former UP CM HN Bahuguna.

But it was the last time when Congress had an MP in the Nehru-Gandhi bastion. The blitzkrieg of 1984 did not last long as Bofors scam blew the wind in opposite direction carrying the ‘Chhora Ganga kinare wala’ (Allahabad is the hometown of Bachchan) back to tinsel town.

Since then, lotus has bloomed in Allahabad on four occasions while the Samajwadi Party (SP) has also opened its account once.

The Phulpur seat, another bastion of the Congress party which sent country’s first Prime Minister Pandit Jawahar Lal Nehru to parliament on three consecutive occasions, also witnessed a shift after 1984 with Ram Pujan Patel being the last Congress MP from the constituency. Phulpur elected Congress candidates in five consecutive elections between 1952 and 1967.

Political analyst Abhay Awasthi says, “After the 1984 general elections which saw the Congress riding on sympathy wave, Bachchan quitting under the pressure built by the opposition over Bofors scam dented the faith of voters of the twin constituencies. They largely voted on nationalism and patriotism till then.”

“The electorate of Allahabad and surrounding constituencies felt cheated which cost dearly to the Congress. It was the time when regional parties like the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party came into existence. The SP, a breakaway of Janata Dal, was born just before the demolition of disputed structure in Ayodhya on December 6, 1992. Political seriousness gave way to radical issues. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also surfaced in a major way as the Ayodhya issue fanned communal passions in a big way,” he adds.

However, the voters of Pratapgarh parliamentary constituency continued to follow the royal family with Congress receiving its last MP in 2009, Rajkumari Ratna Singh, daughter of Raja Dinesh Singh, a three-time Congress MP from the same constituency.

Kaushambi, the fourth district of Allahabad (now Prayagraj) region, came into existence in 2008 as part of the delimitation of parliamentary constituencies based on recommendations of Delimitation Commission of India.

Till now, the constituency carved out from Pratapgarh has witnessed just two general elections wherein SP’s Shailendra Kumar opened the account in 2009, while in 2014, Vinod Sonker of the BJP won the seat riding on the Modi wave.


According to political analysts, national issues, not caste, may hold the key this time.

Political analyst and advocate Waqar Hassan says, “The trend of coalition government which began from 1989 when former Prime Minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh came to power, ended in 2014 with the BJP bagging the maximum number of seats.”

“The 2019 Lok Sabha polls may largely revolve around accountability of the present government, and caste as a poll plank will be replaced by national issues like corruption, unemployment, national security, terrorism, farmers’ distress, and poverty.


Interestingly, both Allahabad and Phulpur, which had elected BJP candidates in 2014 Lok Sabha polls, as of today has no BJP representative as of today.

After BJP MP from Phulpur Keshav Prasad Maurya quit his seat to take over as deputy chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, by-polls were held on the seat in which Samajwadi Party candidate Nagendra Singh Patel defeated BJP’s Kaushlendra Singh Patel with a margin of 59,460 votes.

Phulpur bypoll witnessed a voter turnout of 37.39 per cent.

BJP MP from Allahabad Shyama Charan Gupta has recently quit the party to join the Samajwadi Party which sent him to parliament from Banda in 2004.

In 2014, Gupta got 3,13,772 votes defeating Samajwadi Party’s Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh.

First Published: Mar 19, 2019 09:40 IST

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