In land of shifting loyalties, some UP MLAs eye 8th consecutive term, some 6th.
Lucknow: In a state known for the shifting loyalties of both voters and politicians, there are few who have managed to win their seats for several terms without a break, and are now all set to score a double hat-trick with a sixth victory.
At the helm of this brigade is independent MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh, better known as Raja Bhaiyya. From a slightly nervous, lanky young man who entered the Vidhan Sabha for the first time in 1993, Raja Bhaiyya has evolved into a confident king-maker of sorts. He evokes fear and respect in his constituency Kunda in Pratapgarh, and has managed to retain his political relevance despite now backing SP though he used to support the BJP earlier.
Another man who has been able to keep a strong hold of his seat over the years is comparatively low-profile MLA Rajesh Agarwal of the BJP. He has won five times from Bareilly, and is now set for a sixth term in the state Assembly. Mr Agarwal was also deputy-speaker in the UP Assembly from 2004-2007. He is known for his soft-spoken and amiable nature.
Ram Prasad Chaudhary, who holds the Kaptanganj seat in Basti district, may have stuck to one seat but has frequently changed parties. From Samajwadi Party in 1993, BSP in 1996, BJP in 2002 and back to BSP in 2007, he is now contesting on a BSP ticket. It is his personal clout in the constituency that has ensured his victory, irrespective of the party he represents.
Ajay Rai, the Congress MLA from Pindra in Varanasi, has won four Assembly elections and a by-election. Mr Rai hit the headlines in 1996 when he defeated CPI veteran Udal, who had won eight elections in a row from Kolasala. He contested the 2002, and 2007 elections on a BJP ticket and later joined the Congress. He also contested against Prime Minister Narendra Modi from Varanasi in 2014.
Another candidate working towards a sixth victory is the erstwhile Nawab of Rampur, Kazim Ali Khan. The young scion of the royal family of Rampur has been party-hopping from Congress to SP, back to Congress and is now with the BSP. In 2007, on an SP ticket, he resigned from his seat within 11 days of being elected and joined the the BSP. He won the by-election later.
Two senior BJP leaders who have won elections seven times in a row and are now set for their eighth win are Satish Mahana from Maharajpur seat in Kanpur and Suresh Khanna from Shahjahanpur. Both are liberal faces of the BJP and have never been known to pursue the Hindutva line which makes them acceptable to all sections of voters.
Two other MLAs who have completed eight terms, albeit with a break, are Azam Khan (Rampur) and Avadesh Prasad (Faizabad). Both are presently ministers in the Akhilesh Yadav-led SP government in the state.