- Samajwadi Party's Poonam Sinha is taking on Rajnath Singh in Lucknow
- Her husband Shatrughan Sinha, a Congress candidate, campaigned for her
- Lucknow has been voting for the BJP since 1991
Actor-turned-politician Shatrughan Sinha's wife Poonam Sinha, the opposition coalition's candidate in Uttar Pradesh's Lucknow, is taking on a BJP heavyweight in a seat that has been voting the BJP since 1991. Nevertheless, the former Miss India, who joined politics just last month, says she will have her "khamosh (silence)" moment - to borrow the iconic term made famous by her husband.
"I think the situation, the timing is different. This is 2019, not 2014. People are disgruntled. Wherever I have campaigned, people are asking for badlav (change). So this is the right time for me to do this," Poonam Sinha, 69, told NDTV as voting took place in Lucknow and 13 other constituencies in Uttar Pradesh in the fifth round of the national election.
Lucknow, the constituency once represented by former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, is not among the seats that the BJP is particularly worried about today. The opposition votes are widely seen to be divided between the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) gathbandhan, which has fielded Poonam Sinha, and the Congress's Acharya Pramod Krishnam. In 2014, while the BJP won by a huge margin, the Congress placed second, ahead of the Samajwadi party and BSP.
Asked whether she was nervous, Poonam Sinha shot back: "Whose wife am I? Confidence, thy name is Shatrughan Sinha. I think a little bit of that confidence has rubbed off on me too. I am very happy and confident that I am going to fight a great battle and hopefully come out a winner."
She dismissed criticism that she had been parachuted late to Lucknow, a constituency that she is unfamiliar with. "We have a lot of friends, relatives here... it is not a new place for me, despite the late announcement."
Her campaign became very piquant, with husband Shatrughan Sinha - who quit the BJP after over three decades to join the Congress last month -- campaigning for her instead of his party's candidate.
"He came here on personal level, because it is a very big step for me. Any husband would do that for his wife. People like to make a big deal about it. It's done and over, and now we are fine, we are doing our bit," smiled Poonam Sinha.