Kalpnath Rai fights to retain Ghosi, this time for BJP-Samata
Having severed all links with his Congress
past, controversial former minister Kalpnath Rai is now making a
fourth bid to enter Parliament from Ghosi in eastern Uttar Pradesh, this time as a Samata-BJP alliance candidate.
A trusted lieutenant of the Gandhi family, who is now ironically
on a different boat, is back in his constituency seeking votes
more on personal grounds and for his contributions to the
development of the place.
However, his rivals in the once Communist bastion are formidable.
Also, he is with a party which was placed fourth in the last polls,
not having made any significant impact in the area. His opponents
now are Samajwadi Party candidate Azmal Noorani, Bahujan Samaj Party
candidate Bal Krishna Chauhan, and Congress candidate and former Union
minister Chandrajeet Yadav.
Communist Party of India candidate Atul
Kumar Anjan is also trying to once again establish the Communist
hold over the constituency. In all, there are 11 candidates
whose fate will be decided by 1,207,065 voters.
Ghosi is one of the constituencies where a fissure has surfaced in
the United Front. Since the constituency for long was dominated by
the Communists, the CPI this time refused to leave the seat for the
The stakes being high, Defence Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Chief
Minister Kalyan Singh, BSP supremo Kanshi Ram, BSP vice-
president Mayawati, filmstar-turned politician Raj Babbar have done
their rounds of the constituency, kicking off intensive
If development was the only issue Rai could have had smooth
sailing, but much to his chagrin, the campaigning is embroiled in
diverse issues. Rai has sought to define the contest as a fight
between development and disaster whereas his rivals are seeking
support in the name of social justice, secularism and
stability. Aware that polarisation of votes may also take place along
caste lines he is also launching a severe attack on casteism.
In 1996, Rai contested the election as an Independent
candidate as he was forced to sever links with the Congress. Being
implicated in a TADA case he virtually fought the election from
behind bars and in a tough contest won by 14,945 votes.
The constituency falls in Mau which was carved out of Azamgarh and
Ballia district about a decade ago. The seat was retained by the
Communists in 1962, 1967, in the 1968 by-election and in 1971. In 1977 the
Janata Party won it and in 1980 prominent Communist leader of the
region Jhakhandey Rai won back the seat.
In a constituency which is dominated by Muslims, Rajputs,
backwards -- mainly Yadavs, Chauhans and Dalits -- Rai in the last
election secured 194,985 votes against 180,040 votes of his
nearest rival, BSP candidate Mukhtar Ansari. The Samajwadi Party
candidate was placed third securing 103,996 votes.
The constituency has five assembly segments of which the BJP and Samajwadi
Party have two seats each while the BSP has one
seat. Chandrajeet Yadav, though he is contesting from
here for the first time, is well known in the region because of his
Back in the Congress after a decade, he has come here
leaving his traditional Azamgarh constituency. The Congress won here
in 1952, 1957, 1984, 1989 and 1991. Yadav seeks votes in the
name of stability and hopes that the Sonia factor will help him. In
the last election, Kalpnath Rai's traditional rival Rajkumar Rai could get only 14,122 votes. He too has joined the Samajwadi Party and is helping Noorani.
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