Atiq Khan

Filing of nominations in Uttar Pradesh can sometimes become a spectacle

The low-key nominations of UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi and Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi in Rae Bareli and Sultanpur (for Amethi) respectively are a study in contrast on how the filing of nominations changes from constituency to constituency and from candidate to candidate in Uttar Pradesh.

Although the Election Commission restrictions on the entry of supporters during filing of nominations — only five persons, including the candidate, are allowed — has prevented district headquarters from resembling a ‘mela,’ it has not deterred candidates and political parties from putting up a lavish display of wealth and pomp, with hundreds, and sometimes even thousands of hired supporters outside.

The show of strength and the ostentatious display of wealth depend largely on the political and financial status of the candidate. When Mr. Gandhi drove down to the Sultanpur district Collectorate on April 4 along with Ms. Gandhi to file his nomination for the Amethi parliamentary seat, he was welcomed by Congress supporters lined up by the roadside. But the crowd was not huge, and there was no disruption of traffic. There was some jostling when Mr. Gandhi came out to talk to the media, but he was whisked away by the SPG security personnel.

Ms. Gandhi’s nomination in Rae Bareli on Monday was even more low key. With the roads leading to the Collectorate cordoned off, her nomination was a quiet affair. Again, there was no choking of traffic. Given their status, Ms. Gandhi and Mr. Gandhi hardly needed to reinforce it with a show of pomp. Security considerations may have also influenced their low-key filing of nomination papers. But for others, the event has been anything but that. The former Congress Minister and now Bahujan Samaj Party candidate for the prestigious Lucknow seat, Akhilesh Das Gupta, showed off his status when he drove down in a mechanised ‘rath’ (chariot) to file his nomination on Saturday last. A former mayor of Lucknow, Dr Gupta, likes to do everything in style. As hundreds of his supporters, clad in blue and waving blue BSP flags, accompanied the huge march to the District Collectorate, the roads were jammed.

BJP’s cavalcade

On Monday, it was the turn of the Bharatiya Janata Party supporters to flaunt their strength: traffic came to a standstill as Lalji Tandon, the party candidate from Lucknow, led a huge cavalcade of foot soldiers to the collectorate for filing his papers.

The Samajwadi Party candidate from Lucknow, Nafisa Ali, is due to submit her candidature before the nominations for the third phase close on Thursday, April 9. She will be accompanied by actor Sanjay Dutt.

With political parties and candidates trying to outdo one another, there is a possibility of the SP putting up a even bigger road show.

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