Poonam Sinha, wife of actor-politician Shatrugan Sinha on Tuesday joined the Samajwadi Party (SP), who is pitting her from Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow parliamentary constituency against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh.
The development comes after last week, Shatrughan Sinha joined the Congress after quitting the BJP, with whom he had an almost three-decade-long association.
Poonam was inducted into the party in the presence of SP leader and party chief Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav.
“Yes somebody must contest, that is the beauty of democracy. We will fight elections with full dignity and etiquette, which is part of Lucknow’s heritage and tehzeeb.”Rajnath Singh
The Samajwadi Party, sources said, has done its maths to field Poonam from Lucknow. “There are four lakh Kayastha voters and 1.3 lakh Sindhi voters in Lucknow, apart from 3.5 lakh Muslims. (Poonam is a Sindhi while her husband Shatrughan is a Kayastha). This will give a major push to her candidature,” said a SP leader.
The Congress party has fielded Acharya Pramod Krishnam from Lucknow Lok Sabha seat even though the SP had requested the Congress, which it excluded from its coalition, not to field a candidate from Lucknow to help the SP-BSP coalition to defeat the BJP.
As per reports, the Congress wanted to field former Union Minister Jitin Prasad against Rajnath Singh to convert the election into a fight between the Kshatriya and the Brahmin communities, but Prasad refused to contest from Lucknow, a BJP stronghold.
Lucknow – a BJP stronghold since Vajpayee
Rajnath Singh had won the Lucknow seat in 2014 garnering 55.7 per cent of the total 10,06,483 votes polled. He had won in all the five assembly segments of the constituency. Rita Bahuguna Joshi, then a Congress MLA and former Uttar Pradesh Congress Committee chairperson, had remained runner-up in these elections by securing 2,88,357 of the total votes.
PM Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented Lucknow five times in succession between 1991-2004. Lalji Tandon (2009) and now Rajnath Singh have kept the Lucknow seat safe for BJP since then.
The reason for BJP’s dominance on the seat can be gauged by the candidates who have represented Lucknow – Vajpayee, Tandon and Singh – are all considered moderate faces of the BJP.
The Muslim population here is largely Shia and they have been loyal supporters of BJP since Vajpayee who forged the bond between the party and the Shias of Lucknow.
Rajnath Singh was also instrumental in resuming flight operations between Lucknow and Najaf (Iraq), the holiest shrine for the Shia Muslims, after nearly 25 years of being suspended during the Iraq-Kuwait war. Najaf is considered as the spiritual capital for Shia Muslims, the city where the fourth Caliph, Imam Ali, is buried.
The community is also grateful to Rajnath Singh as he had recently helped restore control over a 700-year-old, 11 acre Dargah of Shah-e-Mardan in Delhi’s Jor Bagh, to the Shia community. Dargah of Shah-e-Mardan is a disputed property which Shias feared losing to the land mafia – allegedly backed by Congress leader and Gandhi family’s confidante Ahmed Patel.