As Rajnath Singh Eyes Lucknow Hat-trick, Here’s What Locals Are Saying – News18

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh. (File Image/PTI)

Of the 80 Lok Sabha Seats in UP, Lucknow, one of the strongholds of BJP since 1991, has always been associated with illustrious personalities including former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

Defence Minister Rajnath Singh is hoping to register a hat-trick on the Lucknow seat this Lok Sabha election. Whether or not will he be able retain the seat, maintaining the 33-year-long legacy of Lucknow being a Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) stronghold remains to be seen. People, including Muslims, hailing from the constituency said Rajnath Singh is a big name and will continue to win, irrespective of who he contests against. However, some people said winning the Lucknow Lok Sabha Seat won’t be a cakewalk for the BJP stalwart since it’s for the first time in history that an alliance candidate has been folded against him from this seat.

Of the total 80 Lok Sabha Seats in Uttar Pradesh (UP), Lucknow Lok Sabha Seat, one of the strongholds of BJP since 1991, has always been associated with illustrious personalities including former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. Vajpayee contested eight times from here, winning five times and it is the only reason which fetched it a local title of ‘Atal Ji Ki Seat’ (Atal ji’s seat). Not only this, the constituency holds significance for the Nehru-Gandhi family as Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, the sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, was the first MP from here. The Nehru family’s influence continued with Sheorajwati Nehru succeeding Vijay Lakshmi Pandit.

In the 2024 Lok Sabha Polls, BJP has fielded Rajnath Singh for the third consecutive time while INDI alliance has made Ravidas Mehrotra its joint candidate. This will be the first time that the opposition has fielded its joint candidate against BJP on this seat and this has made the political battle on ‘Atal Ji Ki Seat’, all the more ferocious. Samajwadi Party has fielded Ravidas Mehrotra, an INDIA bloc candidate who is also an SP MLA from Lucknow Central Assembly seat and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded Sarvar Malik in the upcoming 2024 Lok Sabha elections. This has posed a fresh challenge before BJP candidate Rajnath Singh, the sitting MP of Lucknow, to maintain the 33-year-old legacy of this being a BJP seat. Voting will take place in Lucknow on May 20.

Despite the challenge, people hailing from Lucknow came out in support of the BJP stalwart, while calling him a true ‘Lakhnawi’. The locals say their support is always with Rajnath Singh and he will win with a victory margin of over 5 lakh votes. “He is a big leader. There are a substantial number of Sikhs and Muslims who have turned up to support him. Irrespective of who he contests against, he will win,” said Sudhanshu Shukla, a local who joined Rajnath Singh’s roadshow as he filed his nomination as a BJP candidate from the Lucknow Lok Sabha Seat for 2024 Lok Sabha Polls on Monday.

Khursheed Alam, another local who hails from Lucknow, said he is hopeful that Rajnath Singh’s victory margin this time would cross the mark of 5 lakh. “Lucknow Seat ek alag mijaaz ki seat hai (Lucknow is a seat of different mood). Here people have always voted for a liberal leader, be it Atal Bihari Vajpayee, Lalji Tandon or Rajnath Singh. This time, too, we will vote for the BJP,” said Alam.

However, there were few who said that winning the Lucknow Lok Sabha Seat is not going to be a cakewalk for Rajnath Singh, this time. “Indeed Rajnath ji has registered a thumping victory in the past two Lok Sabha elections but this time the scenario is different. It’s for the first time an alliance candidate has been fielded from Lucknow Lok Sabha Seat. This will certainly bring down the victory margin for Rajnath ji,” said Saurabh Shukla, a trader who hails from Lucknow.

Caste Dynamics

Shashikant Pandey, a political analyst and HOD, Department of Political Science, Dr Bhimrao Ambedkar university, Lucknow, said caste dynamics is one thing that makes Lucknow Lok Sabha seat different from others. The seat is more of a basket of all castes and a blend of religious affiliations. “According to the elections held in 2019, there are a total of 19.37 lakh voters here, in which the number of male voters is 11 lakh and the number of female voters is more than 9 lakh. Talking about the caste equations of Lucknow, about 71 percent of the population here is Hindu. Out of this, 18 percent of the population is Rajput and Brahmin. Here the population of the OBC community is 28 percent and the number of Muslim voters is 18 percent. In the elections held in the year 2022, BJP had won 3 out of five assembly seats,” said Pandey.

The Glorious Past

Lucknow, historically a Congress stronghold, witnessed its political landscape evolve over the years. Vijay Lakshmi Pandit, sister of Jawaharlal Nehru, marked its political debut in 1952, followed by a succession of Congress victories until 1967 when Anand Narayan Mulla, an independent Urdu poet, secured the seat. Sheela Kaul reclaimed it for Congress in 1971, succeeded by Hemwanti Nandan Bahuguna from the Janata Party. Subsequently, the BJP emerged as a dominant force, with Atal Bihari Vajpayee serving as MP for a record five terms from 1991 to 2004, solidifying BJP’s influence. Over 18 general elections, Congress won seven times, while BJP triumphed on eight occasions, establishing a strong presence since Vajpayee’s tenure. Lucknow has transformed into a BJP bastion, reflecting the shifting political dynamics of the region.

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