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February 12, 1998


Constituency Profile /Allahabad

Joshi seeks to do a Shastri

Former Bharatiya Janata Party president Dr Murli Manohar Joshi is making an all-out effort to retain the prestigious Allahabad seat which he had wrested from the Janata Dal in the 1996 election.

Ironically enough, he is pitted against two of his former party colleagues. Samajwadi Party candidate Shyama Charan Gupta and Bahujan Samaj Party nominee Dr K P Srivastava had both left the BJP recently.

Dr Joshi had, in 1996, defeated his nearest rival Saroj Dubey (Janata Dal) by 103,523 votes.

Though the number of candidates in the fray this time has come down from 73 to 21, including 11 Independents, a fierce contest is expected.

Allahabad has never returned any candidate twice in a row except Lal Bahadur Shastri, who won from here in 1957 and 1962.

Jawaharlal Nehru, Shastri and V P Singh have represented this seat in the past. Besides the three prime ministers, Hemvati Nandan Bahuguna, film star Amitabh Bachchan and Union Petroleum Minister Janeshwar Mishra have also been elected from here.

The constituency has two assembly segments in the city -- City North and City South -- besides three rural segments of Trans Yamuna -- Karchhana, Meja and Bara. It has an electorate of about 1.4 million voters.

The SP candidate, Gupta, contested this seat in 1991 on a BJP ticket and lost to Saroj Dubey of the Janata Dal by a narrow margin of 5,000 votes. He is also a former mayor of Allahabad.

Dr Joshi fought his first Lok Sabha poll in the post-Emergency period of 1977, when he won from Almora after his Jan Sangh merged with the Janata Party.

The BJP stalwart is pinning his hopes on the support of Brahmins, Thakurs, Kayasthas and a section of the Dalits. Yet, with the presence of Dr K P Srivastava (BSP) in the fray, there is a possibility of a division of the Kayastha votes, political observers said.

Trader community votes are also expected to be divided, as Gupta is said to wield considerable influence among businessmen.

However, Sunil Seth Bagga, president of the Allahabad Vyapar Mandal, who had earlier opposed Dr Joshi, has joined the BJP and claims that the trader community of Allahabad is with the party.

In the first general election this seat was won by Sriprakash. In 1971, Bahuguna won on a Congress ticket but in the 1974 by-election -- caused by Bahuguna's appointment as UP chief minister -- the party tasted its first defeat. Socialist leader Janeshwar Mishra defeated Satish Khare.

In 1977, Mishra defeated V P Singh. The Congress recaptured the seat in 1980 when Singh defeated Laxmi Bhushan of the Congress-S by 153,062 votes. After V P Singh became chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, the seat was contested by K P Tiwari who defeated Mahmood Ahmad of the Lok Dal by 84,608 votes. At that time, Dr Joshi, with 33,008 votes finished a poor third.

In 1984, Amitabh Bachchan trounced Bahuguna who fought on a Lok Dal ticket.

In a 1988 by-election -- after Bachchan resigned the seat -- V P Singh defeated Sunil Shastri of the Congress and Kanshi Ram of the BSP. The very next year, Janeshwar Mishra (Janata Dal) defeated Kamla Bahuguna, H N Bahuguna's widow.

For the first time in this constituency's electoral history, a woman, Saroj Dubey (JD), emerged victorious, when she defeated Shyama Charan Gupta in 1991 by 5,000 votes. In 1996, the BJP won the seat for the first time with Dr Joshi wresting it from Dube by a margin of 103,523 votes.

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