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Naresh Agarwal likely to contest against Akhilesh from Kannauj in LS polls

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Lucknow | Tuesday, Mar 13 2018 IST
Naresh Agarwal, the known party hopper and Rajya Sabha MP, who joined BJP on Monday, is likely to take on his former boss and Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav from Kannauj in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections.

This seat is currently held by Dimple Yadav, wife of the SP President. The former UP chief minister has already announced that Dimple will not contest the next Lok Sabha election and he himself will contest the elections from Kannauj seat. Mr Yadav is set to return to Kannauj in the next year's electoral battle. On his part, this is an attempt to counter the criticism of promoting dynastic politics.

Mr Agarwal shared with his confidents in Hardoi, his home town on Tuesday that he would be contesting the Lok Sabha elections next year as BJP candidate from neighbouring Kannauj. Hardoi Lok Sabha is a reserved seat for SC candidates, making Agrawal ineligible for contest from here.

Kannauj is a Samajwadi Party pocket-borough. Veteran Socialist leader Ram Manohar Lohia represented this seat in the Lok Sabha in 1967-71. Congress leader Sheila Dikshit was an MP from Kannauj during 1984-89. The Samajwadi Party won it for the first time in 1998.

In 1999, Mulayam Singh Yadav won the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat. He passed on the baton to son and SP chief Akhilesh, who represented Kannauj seat in 1999, 2004 and 2009. In 2012, he became the Chief Minister of this most populated state of the country. In the ensuing by-election in June 2012, his wife Dimple Yadav was elected unopposed from this seat. She also won the 2014 Lok Sabha elections from here.

Riding on Prime Minister Narendra Modi wave, the BJP swept Uttar Pradesh in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The winning margin for Dimple Yadav in 2014 was less than 20,000. In the 2017 UP Assembly election - when Mulayam Singh was sulking and Akhilesh stitched alliance with the Congress, BJP won two of three Assembly segments falling under the Kannauj Lok Sabha constituency.

Sources in Hardoi also said that Mr Agrawal was likely to bring more SP leaders to the BJP fold, in the run up to the 2019 elections. They claimed that it is a considered strategy of BJP "to give Naresh Agrawal some freedom in weakening the SP from within," in the view of recent surprising bonhomie between the SP and the BSP.

Having tasted defeat in Bihar against the grand alliance of RJD-JD(U)-Congress, which has now broken up, BJP is wary of a possibility of BSP chief Mayawati and SP President Akhilesh Yadav joining hands, ahead of the Lok Sabha polls.

Ms Mayawati had problems with Mr Mulayam, following the infamous State Guest house incident in Lucknow in June 1995, when she was assaulted by the SP workers and supporters. On the other hand, Mr Akhilesh, after taking over the reins of SP in his hands, has been cosying up to the BSP chief, for a possible Bihar-like grand-alliance.

With Mr Mulayam out of SP's scheme of things, Ms Mayawati is said to be ready to have an electoral tie-up with the former, to checkmate the BJP in Uttar Pradesh. In BJP's calculations, the sources said, Mr Agrawal can play an effective role in countering a possible SP-BSP alliance in UP.

UNI MB RJ 2056

-- (UNI) -- C-1-1-DL0098-1286753.Xml

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