Uttar Pradesh Congress president Raj Babbar and another actor-turned-politician Hema Malini are among the 85 candidates contesting for eight Lok Sabha seats in the second phase of elections in the state on Thursday.
Polling will be held in Nagina (SC), Amroha, Bulandshahr (SC), Aligarh, Hathras (SC), Fatehpur Sikri, Mathura and Agra (SC).
Fatehpur Sikri will see a triangular battle between Babbar, BJP’s Rajkumar Chahar and BSP’s Shreebhagwan Sharma, who is a two-time MLA from Debai assembly constituency of Bulandshahr.
While in the temple-town constituency of Mathura, Bollywood “dream girl” of yesteryears, Hema Malini, is seeking re-election after winning the seat in the 2014 general elections.
The other candidates in the fray are Kunwar Narendra Singh of the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and Mahesh Pathak of the Congress.
In Amroha, sitting BJP MP Kanwar Singh Tanwar will lock horns with Bahujan Samaj Party’s Kunwar Danish Al, who recently joined the party after quitting as the general secretary of the Janata Dal-Secular.
The eight Lok Sabha seats were bagged by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in 2014. This time it faces a tough fight from the SP-BSP-RLD alliance.
In this phase, the BSP has fielded candidates for six of the eight constituencies — Nagina, Amroha, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Agra and Fatehpur Sikri. The SP and the RLD have fielded one candidate each from Hathras and Mathura respectively.
Apart from Hema Malini and Tanwar, the BJP has retained three other MPs – Yashwant Singh (Nagina), Bhola Singh (Bulandshahr) and Satish Gautam (Aligarh).
The Election Commission has set up 16,162 polling booths in 8,751 polling centres for this phase in the state.
In Agra, UP animal husbandry, minor irrigation and fisheries minister S P Singh Baghel (BJP) will take on Preeta Harit of the Congress and Manoj Kumar Soni of the BSP.
In Aligarh, the fight is between Gautam (BJP), Ajeet Baliyan (BSP) and Bijendra Singh (Congress) while in Hathras, Rajvir Diler of the BJP will take on Ramji Lal Suman of the Samajwadi Party and Triloki Ram of the Congress.
In Bulandshahr, the contest figures Bhola Singh (BJP), Yogesh Verma (BSP) and Banshi Singh (Congress).
The Nagina constituency will see Singh defending his turf against Omvati Devi of the Congress and Girish Chandra of the BSP.
While Singh is a former SP leader, Devi has been with all the four principal parties in the state – SP, BSP, BJP and Congress – at different times of her political career.