The backwardness of this reserved Lok Sabha
constituency is readily visible, the star candidate is not.
Bahujan Samaj Party leader and former chief minister Mayawati
chose Akbarpur as her vehicle to Parliament, filed her nomination, and
made off to campaign in other parts of
the state. She returned on Friday to address
election meetings --
and was off again on Saturday
evening, when the campaigning closes for
Her confidence stems from the fact that her party holds three of the five
assembly segments in the constituency. The BSP
candidates were returned from Akbarpur, Katehri and Tanda while
Jalalpur is with the Bharatiya Janata Party and Jehangirganj
with the Samajwadi Party.
Pitted against Mayawati are the BJP's Ram Triveni, SP candidate Lalta Prasad
Kanaujia and Krishna Kumar of the Congress.
The misuse of the Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribes Act by the
Mayawati government in the state and lack of development in the area
are the main poll issues in the
constituency, which has never been represented by the BJP.
Former ministers Barkhu Ram Verma and R K Chaudhary manage Mayawati's campaign.
There are 10 candidates in the fray. But, even on the last day, the hustle and
bustle of electioneering is still missing. Only an occasional jeep or rickshaw with a
loud hailer breaks the
quiet, and not-so-plenty posters and banners remind the voters
that indeed an election is at hand.
Political observers had expected the constituency to be turned into a
battleground by Mayawati and her bete noire and Samajwadi Party
president Mulayam Singh Yadav. Mulayam Singh visited the constituency thrice;
so did SP leaders Amar Singh and Raj Babbar.
Chief Minister Kalyan Singh and state BJP chief Rajnath Singh
have already campaigned for Triveni Ram.
While the BJP and SP blames Mayawati for
misusing the SC and ST Act against the upper castes and allowing
corruption in high places to continue unchecked, the former chief
minister is promising speedy development in the area.
Interestingly, no party is raising the Ayodhya issue.
The SP has dubbed Mayawati an 'outsider', and raised the issue of
naming the birthplace of Dr Lohia after Dr B R Ambedkar.
Legislator Ram Achal Raj claims Mayawati will win hands down as
the promise of development touches an emotive chord among the
Akbarpur had in 1996 returned BSP candidate Ghanshayam
Chandra Kherwar. He beat his BJP rival by about 25,000 votes.
However, in 1991 Ram Awadh of the Janata Dal
bagged the seat, scrapping through by a
razor-thin margin of 156 votes. The BSP
candidate finished third.
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