The Congress Thursday declared that 64-year-old sitting MLA Rita Bahuguna Joshi, former state president and party’s national spokesperson, will be its Lok Sabha candidate from Lucknow, a parliamentary seat that has been with the BJP for the past 23 years.
Joshi, daughter of former UP CM Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna and a teacher by profession, had contested from the same seat in 2009 Lok sabha election, too, but had lost it to BJP candidate Lalji Tandon by 40,000 votes.
Aware of Lucknow being a BJP stronghold (the seat has been represented by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee five times), Joshi, however, says it will be different this time.
“The fight will be between the Congress and the BJP as it has been in the past. But the BJP graph has been going down. In the recent Assembly election, all of their sitting MLAs (three) had lost.” Joshi told The Indian Express after her name was declared by the AICC in its second list.
Joshi added: “Internal conflict in the BJP has already come out in the open. Their national president (Rajnath Singh, who, interestingly, is being tipped to be BJP’s candidate from Lucknow) is not even sure of winning his sitting Lok Sabha seat (Ghaziabad) and is looking for safer seats.
The BJP has ruled Lucknow for ages, winning maximum of both Lok Sabha and Assembly seats. Even the Mayor (Dinesh Sharma) is a member of BJP. Still, Lucknow remains one of the most ill-equipped state capitals in the country.”
She said her election campaign would aim at highlighting the poor development (of Lucknow) and the deteriorating law and order situation under the present Samajwadi Party government.
As for other political parties, while the SP has declared former minister Ashok Bajpai for the seat, the BSP has announced former minister Nakul Dubey as its candidate.
The Congress, in its second list, has shifted Raj Babbar from Firozabad to Ghaziabad, while 75-year-old Begum Noor Bano has been given ticket from Moradabad. Her son, Kazim Ali Khan, has already been declared a candidate from Rampur in the party’s first list.
From Domariyaganj, where sitting MP Jagdambika Pal quit the party last week, Youth Congress leader Tarun Patel will contest. Other candidates include sitting MLA Lalitesh Pati Tripathi from Mirzapur; sitting MLA Mukesh Srivastava from Kaiserganj; film actress Nagma from Meerut (replacing Dayananda Gupta); and Hansmukhi Sankhwar from Etawah, an SP stronghold which the Congress had left uncontested in 2009.
The party is yet to declare its candidate from Allahabad and Varanasi.
Interestingly, out of the 28 Congress sitting MLAs in Uttar Pradesh, seven have been chosen as candidates for the coming elections.