The prestigious twin Lok Sabha constituencies of Phulpur and Allahabad in the district, represented in the past by three prime ministers, is seeing a battle of political turncoats this election as majority of the main candidates are fighting polls after having switched party allegiance.
In Phulpur, wherefrom Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru won the first three Lok Sabha elections, the BJP has fielded former zila panchayat chief Keshri Devi Patel while Pankaj Niranjan is fighting from the Congress with Pandhari Yadav forming the third corner of this triangular contest.
The Patel community is an important electoral base and the Congress and the SP-BSP alliance is also seeking to corner an important vote share from it.
Senior Congress leader from Allahabad, Abhay Awasthi, says, the 2019 general elections in Allahabad this year is essentially a “battle of political turncoats”.
“The twin Lok Sabha seats of Phulpur and Allahabad have seen titans fighting the poll in the past. From Nehru winning three times from Phulpur to Lal Bahadur Shastri and V P Singh from Allahabad, and then senior BJP leader M M Joshi, winning three times from Allahabad, these two have been very prestigious seats, but big players are not in the fray this time,” he told PTI.
Aswathi said Keshri Devi Patel is a strong leader of Patels, and having served multiple time as zila panchayat president in Allahabad, has a strong hold over voters at the grass-roots level.
“She is fighting for BJP, but she was earlier with the BSP. Patel fought the Lok Sabha elections in 2004 on a BSP ticket but had lost to SP candidate Atiq Ahmed (by over 64,000 votes),” he said.
Pankaj Niranjan, a Patel leader from Apna Dal, is fighting on a Congress ticket. He is a son-in-law of Apna Dal founder late Sonelal Patel, and the grand old party is seeking to woo Patel voters with him as the candidate.
But, parties are betting on turncoats not just in Phulpur but also in Allahabad constituency, where former Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi is trying her luck, pitted against Congress’ Yogesh Shukla, who earlier belonged to the BJP.
While Joshi had unsuccessfully fought Lok Sabha elections in 1999, losing to BJP stalwart M M Joshi and finished third, Shukla was fielded by the BJP in 2009 but faced defeat at the hands of SP’s Kunwar Rewati Raman Singh and managed to get only the third position.
Shukla had joined the Congress late April just ahead of filing his nomination, Awasthi said.
“More so, SP’s Rajendra Singh Patel fielded from Allahabad this time, was earlier with the JD(U) and had served as its vice-president. So, it is indeed a battle of turncoats of sorts this time for the two seats,” he said.
Lok Sabha seats of Phulpur and Allahabad fall in the Allahabad district. As many as 14 candidates each are testing their fortunes from the two constituencies in the election here due on May 12.
Phulpur Lok Sabha seat, which Nehru had won in 1952, 1957 and 1962 consists of five assembly segments — Phaphamau, Soraon, Phulpur, Allahabad West and Allahabad North.
Allahabad Lok Sabha seat also consists of five assembly segments — Meja, Karachhana, Bara, Koraon and Allahabad South.
Lal Bahadur Shashtri, who served as the second prime minister from 1964-66, had won Allahabad seat in 1957 and 1962, while VP Singh had won it in 1988.
Akshat Lal, a resident of old Allahabad, which falls in Allahabad constituency, said, “From childhood days, we have heard stories of Nehru, Shahstri and how the two seats have been considered bellwether constituencies. But, now caste and community equations are major factors in politics.”
Lal, a graduate of Allahabad University, says, Allahabad is a city of Sangam, and, with many turncoats in the fray, it seems “politics is getting mixed up here in unusual ways”.
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