In a direct fight between the two key players in Indian politics, the Indian National Congress and the Bharatiya Janata Party are taking on each other in the fight for Lucknow Cantonment. Cantonment constituency comprising of the Dilkusha Garden, Charbagh, NRI Colony and narrow lanes of Old City are seeing a top BJP face and two political greenhorns try their luck.
With the election of Rita Bahuguna Joshi to the Lok Sabha, the seat fell vacant and has been up for grabs. With 3.85 lakh voters, the constituency is made up of Sikhs, Punjabis, Muslims and Brahmins. Since 1957 in 11 elections the seat has seen a Brahmin face get a preference.
Congress state president Ajay Kumar Lallu is hopeful of a turnaround for his party in the by-elections. The BSP and the SP have meanwhile gone their separate ways. The maximum candidates, 13 each, are from Lucknow Cantonment and Jalalpur assembly constituencies.
The Congress hopes a revival in UP after its battering in the Lok Sabha polls.
In the current assembly, the BJP has 302 MLAs, SP 47 and BSP 18. BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal) has eight MLAs and the Congress seven.
Since 1991, the BJP has maintained a firm grip on the constituency, barring in 2012 when Congress candidate Rita Bahuguna Joshi defeated three-time sitting BJP MLA Suresh Chandra Tewari.
This will be Samajwadi Party candidate Major (retd) Ashish Chaturvedi’s first bid to attain power. Chaturvedi will try eating into the Brahmin vote bank of the BJP.
Congress has fielded Sikh face, Dilpreet Singh to attract Sikh voters.
Civic issues roil the constituency, bad roads, traffic jams courtesy the Alambagh bus stand, water logging concerns and Alambagh market is infamous for encroachments.
While the BJP seems to be the clear favourite among political pundits, with a wave of nationalism sweeping across the nation, a four-cornered contest is playing out on all seats with the BJP, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Samajwadi Party (SP) and Congress trying their luck.
With 11 Assembly constituencies namely Gangoh, Rampur, Iglas (SC), Lucknow Cantonment, Govind Nagar, Manikpur, Pratapgarh, Zaidpur (SC), Jalalpur, Balha (SC) and Ghosi seats polling in UP on the whole, BJP will try drawing first blood with opposition failing to pull off an aggressive campaign. Actively charged up cadres have spared no efforts to win all seats.