As the political parties and their star campaigners made a last ditched effort to woo the voters to their cause in the Uttar Pradesh by-elections, the outcome of the poll battle for the Firozabad Lok Sabha seat is likely to decide the course of politics in the State. At the outset, the electoral contest in Firozabad is expected to revolve around the Samajwadi Party and the Congress and given the fierce campaigning by both the parties over the last fortnight it seems unlikely that the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party would make any impact on the final outcome.
By-polls in the Firozabad Lok Sabha and 11 Assembly constituencies of the State are due on November 7. The 11 Assembly constituencies which go to the polls on Saturday are Bhartana, Puwayan ( Reserved ), Lucknow West, Jhansi, Rari, Kol Asla, Padrauna, Isauli, Hainsar Bazar ( Reserved ), Lalitpur and Etawah.
Campaigning for the by-elections ended on Thursday.
The stakes in the by-elections are particularly high for the Samajwadi Party, especially in Firozabad where the SP supremo, Mulayam Singh has taken a calculated risk of fielding his daughter-in-law, Dimple Yadav, by overlooking the claims of other ticket seekers. Mr. Singh has come under fire from some of his own partymen in Firozabad for promoting the cause of his family at the expense of other strong contenders. And, with former Samajwadi-turned Congressman and film actor, Raj Babbar turning the heat on his poll adversary, the SP chieftain is faced with an uphill task to keep the seat in his family. ( Firozabad was vacated by his son, Akhilesh Yadav, who was elected from here in the 2009 Lok Sabha polls held in May ). Congress General Secretary, Rahul Gandhi’s poll rally in Firozabad last week seemed to have added to the SP’s discomfiture.
The SP’s poll cause in the Lok Sabha constituency received a shot in the arm when the Rashtriya Lok Dal president, Ajit Singh, though with the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) agreed to align with Mr. Mulayam Singh for a common cause and to fight a common adversary - the Congress.
The Congress Party’s success in the recent Assembly elections in Maharashtra and Haryana, and its revival in U.P. has acted as catalysis for the SP – RLD tie up in Firozabad. Mr. Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary, who is the RLD MP from Mathura, addressed an election rally in support of Ms. Yadav in Tundla on Wednesday where Akhilesh Yadav was also present. So much prestige has been associated with the electoral contest in Firozabad that the SP and the Congress have not hesitated to unleash their “star” power for wooing the electorate. It has been a virtual parade by some of the Bollywood bigwigs in the “city of bangles”. While Salman Khan and Govinda asked for votes for Raj Babbar, the SP brought in Sanjay Dutt, Jaya Bachchan and Jaya Prada ( all three are members of the SP ).
While the SP’s hope rested on the support from the Yadavs, Jats and the Lodhs, the Congress is banking on the support of the youth and a cross section of voters belonging to all sections. In fact, at a poll rally in Jasrana Assembly segment of Firozabad on Wednesday, Mr. Mulayam Singh emphasised that his daughter-in-law represented the youth.