Lucknow Cantonment bypoll: A fight for BJP votes here
It is BJP verses others once again in the Lucknow Cantonment assembly constituency, which is dominated by Brahim, Sikh and Punjabi voters.
Since 1991, the saffron brigade has maintained its sway in the constituency, barring in 2012 when Congress candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi had defeated three-time sitting BJP MLA Suresh Chandra Tewari.
However, Joshi switched sides and joined the BJP before 2017 assembly polls and retained the seat as a BJP candidate.
The seat fell vacant after Joshi was elected Member of Parliament from Allahabad on a BJP ticket.
BJP has once again fielded its former MLA Suresh Chand Tewari from the constituency. And Tewari is taking no chances, knocking at the doors of all and sundry to seek votes.
It is the first poll battle for Samajwadi Party candidate Major (retd) Ashish Chaturvedi. As the constituency has a large number of Brahmin voters, Chaturvedi, a Brahmin, is trying to eat into the Brahmin vote bank of the BJP.
After the Brahmins, the Sikhs also comprise a large vote bank in this constituency. Keeping this in mind, The Congress party has fielded Dilpreet Singh, a Sikh, to mobilise the Sikh community behind the party.
In 2017 assembly polls, the Sikh community here had supported Samajwadi Party candidate Aparna Yadav, daughter-in-law of Samajwadi Party patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav. But despite the SP-BSP alliance, Aparna lost by a margin of more than 33,000 votes.
However, in 2019 general elections, the Sikh voters returned to the BJP fold and voted for Rajnath Singh, who is now Defence Minister in the Narendra Modi government.
The BSP too has fielded a Brahmin Arun Dwivedi in the hope to dent the BJP’s Brahmin and upper caste vote bank. However, only time will tell how much dent Dwivedi makes in the BJP’s vote bank.
Interestingly, the BJP cadre and the RSS are not happy with Tewari’s candidature.
Tewari’s three tenures as MLA (1996, 2002, 2007) from this constituency had not been without controversies. His family had faced allegations of land grabbing.
“Bypolls are generally won by ruling parties. I think it will not be a problem for the BJP to win most of the assembly seats in this bypoll,” said Prof Kaushal Kishore Mishra, political science department, BHU, Varanasi.
In this urban constituency, the issues are primarily civic in nature. Poor condition of roads is not just an issue here but a topic of discussion among locals.
Several roads in colonies and by-lanes in this constituency are in poor shape. Post-monsoon, the situation has only become worse.
“Roads are in bad shape in most the colonies here. Forget about driving a four-wheeler or two-wheeler, even walking is an ordeal here in some parts,” said Puneet Sharma, a resident.
The Alambagh bus station is a cause of traffic jam here as several buses are parked outside the bus station blocking roads and leading to traffic jam.
Water-logging is also an issue. During monsoon situation gets worse.
Also, the Alambagh market is infamous for encroachments.