In the by-election to the Govindnagar Assembly seat in the industrial city of Kanpur, a BJP stronghold, most of the political parties are trying their luck with fresh faces with Congress and Samajwadi Party (SP) banking on young ones. The BJP has won the last two elections, while other parties, apart from the Congress, has had little presence in the constituency.
In the last two elections, the seat was won by BJP candidate Satyadev Pachauri who was made a Cabinet minister after the party came to power in 2017. The seat fell vacant after Pachauri, who was the minister for micro, small and medium scale industries as well as export promotion, got elected as an MP from Kanpur Lok Sabha seat in the recent elections.
This time, the ruling BJP has chosen 54-year-old Surendra Maithani who has been serving as the city head of the party for over seven years and has good presence in the region.
Congress, on the other hand, has chosen a young face — Karishma Thakur (25) who is general secretary of NSUI in Delhi. She comes from a family of old Congress supporters in the region. Her father Rajesh Singh had in the past contested the Assembly election from Sarsaul seat on a Congress ticket, but later switched to the BSP. He had contested a Lok Sabha election from Kannauj on a BSP ticket, before joining the Congress back. Sources said that in Kanpur, where there is already a lot of factionalism within the party, Thakur is facing opposition, with many leaders saying that she belongs more to Delhi than to the region.
On a seat, which has been represented by Ajay Kapur in 2002 and 2007 and Vilayati Ram Katyal in 1980 and 1985, the Congress, however, is hoping to make a dent with a fresh face this time.
A senior Congress leader said rather than old faces, party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra has tried to make an impact with a fresh and young face like Thakur. “She is aggressive and leads the protests.”
Sources in the party said the idea behind fielding such a young candidate is that at a time, when the Congress is planning to launch various protests and agitations against the ruling party, Thakur will be able to lead them and also make her ground for the actual Assembly elections in 2022.
Like Congress, the SP is also banking on a young face who is a product of student politics. The SP has chosen 32-year-old Samrat Vikas Yadav who was the vice-president of the state wing of Samajwadi Chatra Sabha.
Meanwhile, the BSP is banking on a Brahmin face like previous elections. The party has chosen Devi Prasad Tiwari who was earlier with the Congress.
Sources said Tiwari had contested the 2012 Assembly polls from Kalyanpur seat in Kanpur city as a Congress candidate. Though, he had had stood fourth with about 19,000 votes, the BSP hops that Tiwari stands a better chance this time with the help of its social engineering.