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|September 11, 1999||
Tough triangular battle on in Kanpur
Captain Jagat Veer Singh Drone of the Bharatiya Janata Party, three-time winner of the Kanpur Lok Sabha seat, is pitted in a fierce triangular contest in this industrial town.
There was speculation the Congress would field sacked naval chief Admiral Vishnu Bhagwat to recapture the seat after 15 years. Instead, the party finally nominated former Kanpur mayor Sriprakash Jaiswal, who had been trying since 1996 to win the seat on a Congress ticket.
Admiral Bhagwat and former Union minister V C Shukla are campaigning for the Congress. The Bharatiya Janata Party is planning meetings where the speakers will include Union Home Minister L K Advani, former Union minister Sushma Swaraj and film star Shatrughan Sinha. Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee kicked off the BJP campaign in the city.
The other candidates in the fray for the September 18 election include Samajwadi Party nominee Shyam Lal Gupta, Bahujan Samaj Party candidate Man Singh Bagga and 11 others, including two women. But the main contestants are the candidates from the BJP, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.
The constituency had yielded mixed results since the 1952 general election, with the Communist Party of India and the BJP having had a better time than the others.
In 1952, Hari Har Nath Shastri of the Congress won the seat. When he died in 1954, Shiv Narain Tandon, also of the Congress, won the by-election. After barely six months Tandon resigned, necessitating another by-election in 1955. Socialist Party nominee Rajaram Shastri won Kanpur this time.
Between 1957 and 1977, the seat was held by Communist leader S M Banerjee; In 1977, during the Janata Party wave, the seat was captured by Manohar Lal of that party.
In 1980, former Union minister Arif Mohammad Khan bagged the seat for the Congress after 25 years. Naresh Chandra Chaturvedi retained the seat for the party in 1984. In 1989, trade unionist Subhasini Ali of the Communist Party of India-Marxist won the seat. From 1991, BJP nominee Drone has held the seat.
Last year, Drone defeated his Samajwadi Party rival Surendra Mohan Agrawal by about 135,000 votes, pushing Jaiswal to third place.
Drone faces local flak this time for his "failure" to solve their problems in his three terms in office. On a few occasions, people were so annoyed that Drone and his supporters had to cut short their campaign.
The Congress has had its problems selecting a candidate. The party took much time in announcing Jaiswal's candidature after withdrawing the ticket earlier allotted to city Congress vice-president Madan Mohan Shukla. This caused some dissatisfaction, and slogans against Sonia Gandhi were heard at the local party office.
Party leaders patched up differences and persuaded the workers to work together to make Jaiswal win.
There is trouble in the Samajwadi Party, forcing candidate Shyam Lal Gupta more or less to run his campaign alone.
The BJP's campaigners have been trying to reduce the election to a Vajpayee versus Sonia Gandhi affair, burying local issues. The Congress has been highlighting the failures of the Vajpayee government at the Centre and those of the Kalyan Singh government in Uttar Pradesh and the BJP-led civic administration here.
The Samajwadi Party nominee has been playing on Sonia's foreign origin and the BJP governments's failures.
The Congress is relying on the 1.41 million Muslim and other minority votes. Party members say this bank, which split after 1991, has returned to the Congress. The Samajwadi Party too is relying on the minority vote bank coming its way.
The constituency is spread over five assembly segments, of which four are held by the BJP and one -- Arya Nagar -- by the Samajwadi Party.
As many as 1,660 polling booths are being set up for the election where nearly two million voters, including over 575,000 women, will exercise their franchise.
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