Campaign Trail/Phulpur, Uttar Pradesh
Congress has no chance in Nehru's constituency
holds the distinction of returning India's first prime minister
Jawaharlal Nehru, today finds itself caught in a whirlpool of
While stalwarts like Nehru garnered support cutting
across all barriers, voting patterns today is determined by caste equations:
the Yadavs back the Samajwadi Party; the Brahmins support the
Bharatiya Janata Party; and the Dalits go along with the Bahujan Samaj Party.
The major contenders in the fray this time are sitting MP Jang Bahadur Singh
Patel of the Samajwadi Party, Beni Madhav
Bind of the BJP, and Ram Pujan Patel of the BSP.
Since 1980, only a person from the Patel subcaste (not to be confused with
the Patels of Gujarat) has been representing Phulpur. Professor B D Singh of the Janata Party-Secular was the first Patel to win in that year. The BJP, however, while expecting a
split among the Patel vote, is confident of picking up the 100,000 Bind votes.
Besides Nehru, his sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit and Vishwanath Pratap
Singh are the prominent figures who have been returned from
this prestigious constituency.
Phulpur was a part of Allahabad constituency in the 1952 and 1957 general elections. It was then
a two-member seat that sent Pandit Nehru and Masuriaddin to the Lok
Sabha in the first two essays.
After the 1962 delimitation, Phulpur and Chail (reserved)
constituencies were carved out of Allahabad. Nehru won the seat
a third time, defeating his socialist nemesis Ram Manohar Lohia.
After Nehru's death, Vijayalakshmi Pandit retained the seat in
1967 and V P Singh clinched the seat for the Congress in 1971.
In the anti-Congress wave of 1977, Bharatiya Lok Dal nominee
Kamla Bahuguna wrested the seat, defeating Ram Pujan Patel of the
Congress. Ram Pujan Patel later won the seat thrice, but with differing
party affiliations. In 1984, he won on a Congress ticket and
in 1989 and 1991 as a Janata Dal nominee. He contested the last
election on a Congress ticket but in vain. This time, he is
in the fray as a BSP candidate.
In 1996, Jang Bahadur Singh Patel of the SP defeated
BSP supremo Kanshi Ram by 16,021 votes.
Once considered a pocket borough of the Nehru family, the Congress
in Phulpur is reduced today to insignificance. This time,
J N Mishra is the Congress nominee for the polls. Even though Sonia Gandhi is
campaigning in the state, it is unlikely to make a major
dent in the non-Congress votes, feel observers.
Fourteen candidates are in the fray for the seat, including six Independents.
Spread over five assembly segments -- Handia, Jhusi, Nawabganj, Phulpur
and Saraon, the constituency is predominantly rural.
The electorate, 1.2 million strong with 532,000 women, will exercise its franchise on Monday, February 16.
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