With Parliamentary Experience and Jat Polarisation, Raj Babbar Emerges as Strong Contender in Fatehpur Sikri
Fatehpur Sikri, bordering Rajasthan, has a huge number of Brahmin and Thakur voters (roughly 6 lakh) and tends to witness reverse polarisation against the 2.25 lakh Jat voters present here.
Image for representation.
Fatehpur Sikri is among the handful of seats in the first two phases of Lok Sabha elections in Western Uttar Pradesh where the Congress candidates are putting up a tough fight. In fact, in the 16 Lok Sabha constituencies of the region – 8 of which voted in phase one and the remaining 8 going to polls in two days – Fatehpur Sikri, may be the only seat where the Congress is placed most strongly.
This west UP constituency, bordering Rajasthan, has a huge number of Brahmin and Thakur voters (roughly 6 lakh) and tends to witness reverse polarisation against the 2.25 lakh Jat voters present here.
Carved out in 2009, the constituency was won by the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)’s Seema Upadhyay at a time when party chief Mayawati was successful in stitching a ‘rainbow alliance’. However, Upadhyay suffered defeat in 2014, with BJP’s Jat leader Choudhary Babulal winning by nearly 1.73 lakh votes.
This time, however, perhaps in an attempt to cut down anti-incumbency and infighting within its folds, the saffron party has replaced Babulal with another Jat face - Rajkumar Chahar.
Chahar’s hopes to tap into the 2.25 lakh Jat vote base, while also claim a substantial section of the upper caste votes, is directly challenged by his opponent and gathbandhan candidate Shreebhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit.
Pandit, who till recently was a member of the Samajwadi Party (SP), and won the Debai assembly seat in Bulandshahr, has the disadvantage of being an 'outsider'. Another stumbling block for him, as far as public perception is concerned, is his penchant for abusing leaders from other parties publicly.
The gathbandhan candidate was booked four times in less than two weeks, for violating the Model Code of Conduct, with the latest being for using foul language against Prime Minister Narendra Modi and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath. Then on Tuesday, a video clip of him booming threats to thrash his rival Raj Babbar and his supporters went viral.
While the Election Commission (EC) is yet to take a call on his latest rant, his abuses are unlikely to bolster his popularity among the Thakurs, who constitute a substantial chunk of voters.
According to some news reports Pandit has also been, at various periods in his political career, a member of all the major political parties of UP - BSP, SP, BJP and RLD.
If Babbar, who is considered to be a close aide of party president Rahul Gandhi, manages to woo the roughly 1.5 lakh Muslim voters in the region, he could fancy his chances of getting into Parliament.
The Jats this time, will have an option between Mahagathbandhan partner RLD, which fought the 2014 election in alliance with the Congress, or the BJP. Among all the three big players in Fatehpur Sikri, Babbar’s political career has been the longest and only he has Parliamentary experience, having won twice - from Agra and Firozabad.
Ahead of voting, political leaders from both national parties held high-voltage rallies in Fatehpur Sikri, including Adityanth from the BJP camp and Congress’ Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, who held a huge rally on Monday. Babu Singh Khushwaha of Jan Adhikar Manch, also held a rally in support of the Congress. There are about 1.5 lakh Khushwaha voters in this Lok Sabha constituency.
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