With candidates from four major parties having filed their nomination papers for the Ghaziabad Lok Sabha seat, the stage is now set for a battle between three national parties, a State party and a new but rapidly rising star on the political scene .
Primarily believed to be a stronghold of the Bahujan Samajwadi Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party, the Ghaziabad constituency this time has strong candidates from the Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party and the Samajwadi Party.
With the sitting MP, Rajnath Singh of the BJP, contesting from Lucknow, the seat is up for grabs.
While all other party candidates have filed their nominations, Congress candidate Raj Babbar is keeping it for the last day — March 22.
BJP candidate General (retd.) V.K. Singh and AAP candidate Shazia Ilmi filed their nominations on Friday. SP candidate Sudhan Rawat and BSP candidate Mukul had filed their nominations earlier.
Both Ms. Ilmi and Mr. Singh — who are new to parliamentary politics — are being considered as outsiders in the constituency. Responding to this remark, Mr. Singh told reporters outside the collectorate office: “All those who call me an outsider should know that I am an Indian, I am not a foreigner. By this logic, I am free to contest from any part of India I want to.”
On being asked about his main competitors from the area, he said: “My fight is with everyone who is responsible for the ruin of the country.”
“Our party has identified key issues that concern the people of the area and will work towards those issues once we come to power,” he added.
Mr. Singh also noted that “local issues are often forgotten by the MPs” and promised to pay attention to them.
Ms. Ilmi, who believes that Ghaziabad has been given step-motherly treatment so far, accepted that her party needs to do a lot more to win the trust of the voters, especially in the rural belt. “Our party already has visibility in urban area, however, we lack the support of rural voters and that is what we will focus on. We are spending a lot of time with people in rural belts of Ghaziabad like Loni, Dhaulana and Muradnagar, trying to understand their problems.”
Attacking the BJP and former Ghaziabad MP Rajnath Singh, Ms. Ilmi said: “Someone should ask the BJP, which keeps talking about development all the time, how much have they developed the rural belts in the constituency? Have they ever visited the interiors and spoken to people about their problems?”