Winning the Lucknow seat will be a "cakewalk" for Home Minister Rajnath Singh as the opposition is yet to find a suitable candidate for the seat that was once held by former prime minister A B Vajpayee, according to UP Deputy Chief Minister Dinesh Sharma. "As per my information Mira Talwar, Dauji Gupta, SP Singh, Alka Das (wife of former Union minister Akhilesh Das), a railway leader and Jitin Prasada were approached by the SP and Congress but all have refused to contest from this seat," Sharma said.
"A new name (of Poonam Sinha) is doing the rounds now as the opposition candidate. This is because people here are sensitive and have an emotional attachment with BJP candidates", Sharma, who was Lucknow's mayor for 10 years, told PTI in an interview. The opposition, he said, "is unable to find a suitable candidate from this seat held by former PM Atalji, who had emotional connect with people of the state capital. Over half a dozen candidates have refused to contest from here. The seat will be a cakewalk for Rajnathji, who has carried forward development vision of Atalji in this constituency".
The Lucknow seat is with BJP since 1991 when A B Vajpayee won. He broke his own record in 1996 by defeating Raj Babbar (SP) by a margin of 1,18,671 votes. In 1998, SP gave a ticket to Muzaffar Ali, who also tasted defeat and Atal's victory margin rose to 2.16 votes. In 1999, Karan Singh of Congress tried to give a tough fight to Vajpayee but ultimately lost by 1.23 votes. In his last polls in 2004 again he again won by defeating Madu Gupta (SP) by 2.18 lakh votes.
The legacy of Atalji was taken forward by his old associate Lalji Tandon, now serving as Governor in Bihar. He won the 2009 polls by securing 34.93 per cent votes while rival Rita Bahuguna Joshi (then Congress) got 27.93 per cent votes. BSP candidate Akhilesh Das was in third place and SP's Nafisa Ali was at the fourth place.
In 2014, when BJP gave the ticket to Rajnath Singh he broke all records and won by a margin of 5,61,106 votes by defeating his nearest rival Congress candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi (now in BJP). Not only parliamentary polls, but the people of Lucknow also gave their support to BJP is mayoral polls. The Lucknow mayor seat is with BJP for over two decades in which Dr SC Rai and Dinesh Sharma served for ten years each and presently the seat is held by BJP's Sanyukta Bhatia.
Recalling Vajpayee's connect with the people, Sharma said, "When I was contesting for the first time in 2006 Atalji came to campaign for me. At a meeting he was climbing stairs slowly even as people looked on When he reached the dais he said 'you (people) need a person who can walk fast not slowly like me." "Atalji was pointing at me and people understood what he wanted and I won. In my next election, I did not ask any BJP leader to campaign for me. I even did not open election office and never campaigned after 6 pm," Sharma said trying to drive home the point that Lucknow is BJP's stronghold.
(With inputs from agencies.)