Poonam Sinha, the wife of actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha, joined the Samajwadi Party today and is likely to contest from Uttar Pradesh’s Lucknow. Last week, Shatrughan Sinha had joined the Congress after quitting the BJP, his party of almost three decades.
Poonam Sinha was welcomed into the party by Dimple Yadav, the wife of Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav, with just two more days before nominations close for Lucknow.
It had been speculated for long that the gathbandhan or alliance of the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal in Uttar Pradesh would go for Poonam Sinha as their candidate against Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh of the BJP.
Lucknow is a prestigious state that has been with the BJP since 1991. The party’s iconic leader Atal Bihari Vajpayee held it from 1991 to 2009. Since then, Rajnath Singh has been winning the seat.
In this election, the seat has fallen into the Samajwadi Party’s share of seats as part of its alliance with bitter rival turned partner BSP.
“On a seat like Lucknow, I am willing to take a risk. I want to look beyond the usual caste combination here. The question is whether it will work or not,” Samajwadi chief Akhilesh Yadav had said.
Poonam Sinha, 69, is a former model and actor debuting in politics, unlike her husband, a two-time union minister.
The Congress is unlikely to field anyone in the seat with its high profile recruit’s wife in the race. Sources say any decision to field Poonam Sinha may be part of a strategy to confine Rajnath Singh to a seat where he has always breezed to victory.
In 2014, he was up against Rita Bahuguna Joshi, then with the Congress and a UP minister. Ms Joshi, who has since joined the BJP, managed about 2,80,000 votes to Rajnath Singh’s 5,60,000. Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) was third and the Samajwadi Party of Akhilesh Yadav was fourth.
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