Congress candidate Shatrughan Sinha joined his wife Poonam Sinha as she filed her nomination papers today as the Samajwadi Party candidate in Uttar Pradesh's Lucknow and took out her first roadshow. The only problem - his party Congress has fielded its own candidate in the prestigious constituency.
"I am here not as a Congress leader but as a husband and surely I have the right to be by my wife's side at this time," Shatrughan Sinha said. The actor-turned-politician, who recently quit the BJP after more than three decades in the party, said he would also campaign for his wife but "not for any other non-Congress candidate".
Poonam Sinha is taking on the BJP's Rajnath Singh, the Union Home Minister who is the sitting MP of Lucknow. The Congress candidate is Acharya Pramod Krishnan, who complained that Shatrughan Sinha should not campaign for a rival candidate. To which, "Shotgun" retorted: "It is my duty as the head of the family and a husband to support my family."
"Head" of the family? Not the best answer.
Nevertheless, Shatrughan Sinha stayed by Poonam Sinha's side throughout her political debut, along with their sons Luv and Kush. Their daughter Sonakshi Sinha, an actor, is in Mumbai.
"I am confident of my victory. My party has done a lot of work here and I have the blessings of the people of Lucknow," Poonam Sinha, dressed in a pastel green sari, told reporters.
She did not, like yesterday, borrow her husband's famous phrase "Khamosh" to describe how she would tackle her rivals.
The BJP has not lost any election in Lucknow since 1991. Former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee represented the constituency from 1991 to 2004. After he retreated from active politics, BJP's Lalji Tandon won the seat in 2009.
Rajnath Singh retained Lucknow for the party in 2014 by defeating then Congress leader Rita Bahuguna Joshi, who is now in the BJP.
This time, any threat from a combined opposition against the BJP in the seat seems to have dulled with the Samajwadi Party-BSP gathbandhan and the Congress fielding separate candidates. The Congress's move, just days after it welcomed Shatrughan Sinha aboard and despite a Samajwadi leader's appeal, is inexplicable to many.
Mr and Mrs Sinha and the Lucknow seat represent the contradictions driving opposition parties in different directions.
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