AGRA: Less than 10 days after the Congress announced the candidature of Rajya Sabha MP and it’s UP state president, Raj Babbar , from Moradabad, the actor-turned-politician on Saturday opted to contest the ensuing Lok Sabha polls from Fatehpur Sikri .
Babbar’s name was cleared for the seat by the party high command in the seventh list of candidates announced on Saturday. In Moradabad, the party has now decided to field Imran Pratapgarhiya.
Announcing the decision, Babbar, who hails from Agra, said, “This is my hometown and people wanted me to contest from here.” He added that he had accepted the Moradabad seat earlier, as Fatehpur Sikri was to go to the alliance partners in case the ‘mahagathbandhan’ had worked out.
In an apparent show of strength, Babbar’s announcement of the change of seat was timed with the joining of four ex-MLAs, three from BSP and one from RLD, and their supporters. With these senior leaders by his side, Babbar said that unlike Moradabad, this constituency and its people were “well known” to him.
The three ex-MLAs from the BSP who joined the Congress are Dr Dharampal Singh, Bhagwan Singh Kushwaha and Surajpal Singh. Former RLD MLA from Sadabad Dr Anil Chaudhary, block pramukh Akola from BSP Omkar Singh Chaher, former Zila panchayat member from BSP Omveer Singh Tomar, and others have also joined the Congress.
Babbar has been a two-time MP from Samajwadi Party in 1999 and 2004 in Agra. While in 1999 he defeated BJP’s Bhagwan Shankar Rawat by 112,982 votes, in 2004 he won against BJP’s Murari Lal Fatehpuria. However, after delimitation in 2008, the Agra Lok Sabha seat became a reserved one.
In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Babbar lost in Fatehpur Sikri to the BSP’s Seema Upadhyay by a margin of 9,936 votes. Babbar got re-elected to the Lok Sabha from Firozabad in the by-elections held in 2009 by defeating former CM Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav. However, he lost the last Lok Sabha polls to BJP’s Gen VK Singh from Ghaziabad.
According to political observers, in the absence of any strong opposition, Babbar stands a chance of winning from Fatehpur Sikri. The BJP faces strong anti-incumbency in the area and was forced to replace its sitting MP, Chaudhary Babulal, with Raj Kumar Chahar, who too isn’t a heavy weight. Chahar had unsuccessfully contested assembly elections thrice from BSP, BJP and as an Independent candidate.
Even the BSP candidate, Rajveer Singh, is a political greenhorn and is making his debut here. He is a Delhi-based businessman who was born in Rajasthan , and had no roots in UP. He is already facing the “outsider” tag.
The Congress has also announced the candidature of Triloki Ram Diwakar from Hathras (SC), Preeta Harit from Agra (SC), Virendra Kumar Verma from Hardoi (SC) and Girish Chand Pasi from Kaushambi (SC).
Agra candidate, Preeta Harit, was posted as principal commissioner Income Tax and had resigned from her post and joined the Congress on March 20 in the presence of Babbar. She is the founder of Bahujan Samyak Sangathan and was selected in civil services at the age of 22.