ALLAHABAD: Allahabad Lok Sabha seat has a unique characteristic of having the same old faces in the Lok Sabha ring but with new identities. BJP has fielded Rita Bahuguna Joshi this time, while the Congress has put its trust in Yogesh Shukla. Joshi had in the past tried her luck as a Congress candidate, while Shukla had contested as a BJP candidate in 2009.
Allahabad has been identified with names of veterans such as Lal Bahadur Shastri, VP Singh, Murli Manohar Joshi, Janeshwar Mishra, Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna and Amitabh Bachchan. The general talk these days, however, veers off to the Kumbh Mela and not the polls, with people recalling how it was efficiently managed by the current BJP government in UP. “We have seen many Kumbhs. This time it was a different experience. SP and BSP leaders should learn from Yogi Adityanath. It will always be remembered as the most successful world festival and a big achievement,” said Ramanand Rai, a teacher at a private school.
Rai is not the only one impressed with the BJP government’s performance at the Centre and the state.
Vishesh Thakur could not stop himself from joining in the conversation. He stopped dealing with customers at his shop and said, “You can feel the difference in the city. Be it roads or electricity everything has improved,” he added.
The area has the maximum population of Brahmin voters, followed by Patel (Kurmi), Yadavs, Thakurs and others, with a sprinkling of Muslims. Strategically, BJP has chosen an old and trusted Brahmin face in Rita Bahuguna Joshi, while sidelining the sitting MP Shyam Charan Shukla. Joshi, daughter of Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna, carried forward the legacy of her father and first contested from the seat in 1999. However, she failed to garner enough votes to make it to the Parliament.
Given the situation on the ground, it is more likely that Joshi will be able to get the support of voters in the area. Joshi has also been associated with Allahabad University and has been the mayor of the city. On the other side, Yogesh Shukla, also a Brahmin, is trying his luck as a Congressman. He had earlier contested as a BJP candidate in 1999 but failed to carry forward the legacy of Murli Manohar Joshi. Rewati Raman Singh of the Samajwadi party had won the seat in 1999.
People in Allahabad claimed Yogesh Shukla was eyeing a BJP ticket this time. However, the party saw a winning chance in Joshi, forcing Shukla to switch to Congress. However, the battle for Allahabad is set to be a tough fight for Shukla as the Congress had last won the seat in 1984 when it had fielded superstar Amitabh Bachchan.
On the other side, SP has fielded Kurmi candidate Rajendra Patel, making the fight triangular. The Kurmis make up a significant part of the constituency, particularly in the rural areas. It is believed that Allahabad seat will present a tough fight for Joshi. “Brahmins voters might be in large numbers but they do not vote enthusiastically. You cannot underestimate the SP-BSP alliance,” summed up Ramakant Shastri, a government employee.