Chief Minister and BSP president Mayawati has chosen Samajwadi Partys old horses to stop her chief rival Mulayam Singh Yadav from reaping the rewards of his friendship with former BJP leader Kalyan Singh in his home turf.
Following the bonhomie between Kalyan and Mulayam,the SP hopes to consolidate the backward caste votes in the pockets of western UP comprising Etawah,Manpuri,Etah,Kannauj,Farukhabad and Ferozabad Parliamentary constituencies.
Incidentally,all the seats are currently held by the SP and thus have been described as Mulayam-land in UP politics. Most of Mayas candidates in this part are native of Mulayams own Etawah district.
The exception to this strategy is Mayawatis decision to field Vinay Shakya against Mulayam Singh Yadav in Mainpuri. Shakya,who started his career in the BSP,had defeated SPs old hand and former Assembly speaker Dhani Ram Verma in the 2002 Assembly polls from Bidhuna. In the last Assembly elections,Shakya was defeated by same Verma by a margin of about 300 votes.
Verma later joined the SP and was known as a prominent face of the SP in the Mulayam-land. He has spent most of his political career in the SP and it was the same Verma who held the post of Leader of the Opposition in the state Assembly, said a source in the BSP.
Mayas charisma worked and Verma has resigned from the seat and has once again joined BSP. Reason: Maya selected his son Mahesh as her partys candidate from Kannauj,pitting him against Mulayams son Akhilesh Yadav.
Interestingly,both Mulayam and Mayas candidate Shakya are from Etawah. Verma is expected to emerge as a counter-force against Kalyan as both belong to the same Lodh caste.
Now consider the battle in Etah,where Mulayam has supported the candidature of Kalyan Singh. As he needed Kalyan to stop Maya in his stronghold,he had to deny party ticket to sitting parliamentarian Devendra Yadav who has crossed over to BSP and adopted as party candidate for Etah.
As Devendra Yadav remained SPs parliamentarian for the last one decade,he has a lot of influence in the constituency. Beside,he will be the only choice for Muslims in a constituency where Kalyan is a candidate, said a source in the BSP,explaining why Maya selected Devendra for Etah.
Similar is the story of Ferozabad,which Mulayam has reserved for his son Akhilesh. Mayawati has again fielded the SPs old hand and partys sitting MP from Jaleshar SP Singh Baghel,who has represented Jaleshar as a parliamentarian since 1998.
An interesting battle is also on in Farukhabad,where Mayawati has selected a known turncoat Naresh Agrawal against SPs sitting parliamentarian Chandra Bhushan Singh. Agrawal was the transport minister in Mulayam government. He first resigned from the state Assembly seat and got his son elected as BSP nominee.
In Etawah (reserved),the BSP has fielded Gaurishankar. He too is an old hand of Mulayam Singhs party SP. He was MLA of SP from Etawahs Ajeetmal seat. Recently,he was elected from Malihabad Assembly seat. Though Gaurushankar had started his career from the Congress,he remained with Mulayam for over a decade.