Lok Sabha elections 2019: Rajnath holds roadshow, files nomination from Lucknow
Union home minister Rajnath Singh, 68, filed his nomination from the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat on Tuesday after taking out an impressive roadshow in the city.
He was accompanied by the leaders from the Janata Dal (United) and Apna Dal in the roadshow which was attended by a substantial turnout of the minority community, including Muslims and Sikhs.
In a less than two-minute address to his supporters, Singh praised Prime Minister Narendra Modi and hoped that he would get another chance to represent Lucknow.
“I am a candidate from this seat and there is no need for me to deliver a long speech. I know you all and you know me. I hope I will get another chance to represent you,” he said.
No major political party has announced its candidate from Lucknow yet but as soon as Rajnath Singh began his roadshow, BJP’s ally in Uttar Pradesh, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) said that efforts to strike a deal for the 2019 Lok Sabha election with the BJP had failed.
Senior BJP leader Kalraj Mishra, deputy chief ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and several ministers from Yogi Adityanath’s cabinet too were part of the procession.
Even as Rajnath’s roadshow was continuing, SBSP chief Om Prakash Rajbhar announced that his party would put up candidates in 39 Lok Sabha seats in UP, including Lucknow and Varanasi (the parliamentary constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi).
In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Rajnath Singh had defeated Congress’s Rita Bahuguna Joshi (she later joined the BJP and is currently a minister in the Yogi Adityanath government) by 2.72 lakh votes, surpassing the victory margin of even former PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee who represented Lucknow for a record five terms from 1991 to 2004.
Rajnath Singh’s aides exuded confidence that his easy connect with the people and relations with other political parties would ensure his win.
“He is a big leader. There are a substantial number of Sikhs and Muslims who have turned up to support him. Irrespective of who he contests against, he will win,” said BJP’s Sikh leader Satvir Singh Raju.
At Parivartan Chowk in the city, several Muslims, including women, joined the roadshow.
“Lucknow has always elected a liberal leader, be it Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lalji Tandon or Rajnath Singh. This time, too, we will vote for the BJP,” said Najma Hussain, a supporter.
Earlier in the day, before setting out to file his nomination papers, Rajnath Singh sought divine intervention by visiting the temples of Lord Hanuman at Hanuman Setu and Hazratganj. He was accompanied by Shiv Kumar, the former aide of late Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
“I don’t think the script will be any different than last time. We will win handsomely,” Kumar said and added that in Lucknow, the BJP candidate always had the blessings of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.
Meanwhile, Poonam Sinha, wife of actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha, reached Lucknow and joined the Samajwadi Party.
Shatrughan Sinha, who was a BJP MP, recently quit the party and joined Congress on April 6.
Poonam Sinha belongs to the Sindhi community while Shatrughan is a Kayastha, and both the communities have a fair presence in Lucknow. There are nearly 4 lakh Kayastha voters and around 1 lakh Sindhis in Lucknow.
According to people familiar with the developments, Poonam Sinha is likely to be the SP-BSP-RLD alliance’s candidate against Rajnath Singh from Lucknow.
“It won’t be easy for Rajnath ji this time,” said Congress leader Hilal Naqvi.
BJP leaders keeping a tab on the developments in the opposition camp said the alliance might be weighing caste equations before arriving at a decision to field Poonam Sinha.