The volte-face by BSP over its candidate for Kanpur Lok Sabha seat has brought a smile on the faces of Congressmen,but has caught the BJP leaders off guard.
Contrary to expectations,on Thursday,the BSP announced former BJP minister Sukhda Mishra as its candidate from Kanpur Nagar. For the last two years,Saleem Ahmed had been projected as the BSP candidate for Kanpur seat.
Between 1991 and 1998,the Kanpur Lok Sabha seat was dominated by the BJP as the Brahmin factor played a pivotal role in the three consecutive victories of party candidate Jagatveer Singh Dron.
With a strong Muslim backing,Congress Sriprakash Jaiswal won the Kanpur seat in 1999,and retained it in 2004.
While the BSP and the Congress have finalised their candidates,a stiff competition is expected between five-time legislator Satish Mahana and former legislator Satyadeo Pachauri for the BJP ticket. In the 2004 Lok Sabha polls,Pachauri had lost to Jaiswal by a margin of 5,000 votes.
The district BJP unit had been counting on the Brahmin factor to wrest power from the Congress. With the BSP fielding a Brahmin,political calculations of other parties has gone for a toss. Saleem Ahmed was expected to damage the Congress by usurping the Muslim votes. Since he will not be in the fray,the Congress may get a big chunk of Muslims votes.
Of the 13.76 lakh voters in Kanpur,16.5 per cent are Brahmins,28 per cent SC/ST,17.18 per cent Muslims,10.3 per cent backwards and 7.8 per cent Vaishyas. The Congress leaders,however,maintained that the BSP move will have no impact. Congress MLA from Seesamau,Sanjeev Dariyab-adi said: In previous elections,Muslims had backed Jaiswal. This time too,we are looking for a similar response.
Saleem had been campaigning in the Muslim-dominated areas for the last two years and had generated a considerable support from the minorities. His removal by the BSP may not go down well with the community,said a Congress leader.
Spokesperson for Shripra-kash Jaiswal,Arun Dwivedi,said: Now it is the time for the BJP to worry as they believed in caste-based politics.
Satish Mahana of the BJP,claimed the BSP move will not affect the partys influence among the Brahmins because Mishra is an outsider. This indicates BSP treats Brahmins as a voteba-nk, he said. As for Jaiswal,he has failed to live up to the expectations of the people. All factors favour the BJP, he added.