LUCKNOW: In Sultanpur, Union Minister Maneka Gandhi is fighting a close battle on a seat vacated by her son Varun. Preferring to be addressed as ‘Ma’ by her constituents, she faces Chandra Bhadra Singh alias Sonu Singh of the BSP and ‘Raja’ of Amethi, Dr Sanjay Sinh of the Congress, who was the Sultanpur MP from 2009-14.
Sinh did not contest in 2014, fielding instead his wife Ameeta Sinh, but she ended fourth. However, the combined vote share of SP-BSP was 47.56% , as compared to 42.51% of the BJP.
The BSP candidate, a local strongman, was earlier in the BJP and a strong supporter of Varun. The general refrain here is that Sultanpur will not cast its votes for Narendra Modi or Mayawati, but for or against Sonu Singh. Last week, Varun asked the people not to fear any “Monu or Sonu” saying these are people who used to tie his shoelaces.
BJP strategists are relying on a division of Congress and gathbandhan votes, besides possible counter-polarisation of non-Yadav and non-Jatav Dalit and OBC votes. The party is also hoping that the Modi factor and central welfare schemes will make the voters repose faith in the Saffron yet again.
Both Sinh and Singh are trying to cash in on their popularity by being local candidates. Maneka is countering the local challenge with her image of an honest MP. She is also using her husband’s name.