Erstwhile royals of UP lose sheen in electoral politics

| | Lucknow
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Erstwhile royals of UP lose sheen in electoral politics

Monday, 15 April 2024 | PNS | Lucknow

With the increasing democratisation of the electoral politics following the rapid rise in caste-based identity politics, the political parties appear to have lost interest in fielding erstwhile royals of Uttar Pradesh in this Lok Sabha election in constituencies where they earlier held sway.

Former Members of Parliament Sanjay Singh, scion of the erstwhile Amethi princely state, Rajkumari Ratna Singh of Kalakankar, Kunwar Akshay Pratap Singh ‘Gopalji’ of Jamo (Amethi) and Begum Noor Bano of Rampur are missing from the electoral scene, as are former MLA Aridaman Singh of Bhadawar (Agra) and Noor Bano’s son Nawab Kazim Ali.

Several former kings and princes took to politics after the abolition of their estates and zamindari. Many of them were accommodated by the Congress and Bharatiya Jan Sangh, the earlier avtar of the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In the Lok Sabha elections 2024, former kings and princes have not got a chance to contest as they seem to have lost their political clout.

Former Union minister Sanjay Singh, who left the Congress and joined the BJP, is not in the fray this time. An aide said, “We were hoping that Maharaj (Sanjay Singh) would be made a candidate by the BJP from Sultanpur, but Maneka Gandhi has been declared the candidate from there again.”

Sanjay Singh, a former Rajya Sabha member, won the Amethi Lok Sabha seat on a BJP ticket in 1998 and the Sultanpur seat as a Congress candidate in 2009. He lost to Maneka Gandhi in Sultanpur in the 2019 Lok Sabha election.

The possibility of Ratna Singh contesting from Pratapgarh as the BJP candidate is over as the party has fielded sitting MP Sangam Lal Gupta. Ratna Singh, daughter of Raja Dinesh Singh, switched to the BJP from the Congress in 2019. She represented Pratapgarh in the Lok Sabha as Congress member in 1996, 1999 and 2009.

Kunwar Akshay Pratap Singh alias ‘Gopalji’ won the Lok Sabha election from Pratapgarh on a Samajwadi Party ticket in 2004. He was the Jansatta Dal (Democratic) candidate for the seat in 2019 but came third. There are no indications yet of him contesting the polls this time.

Former Member of Parliament from Rampur in western Uttar Pradesh and matriarch of the erstwhile royal family, Begum Noor Bano, even at the age of 84, was being considered a contender from the Congress. However, following a seat-sharing agreement with INDIA bloc constituents Congress and the Samajwadi Party, the Rampur seat went to the latter. Her son Nawab Kazim Ali, who was expelled from the Congress, is also away from the electoral battle this time. Kazim’s son Nawab Haider Ali Khan ‘Hamza Mian’, who is in the ruling BJP ally Apna Dal (Sonelal), also did not get a chance this time. In 2014, Nawab Kazim Ali unsuccessfully contested the Rampur seat on a Congress ticket.

The ruling BJP has mostly bet on its old candidates and MPs. Also, with the SP getting a higher seat share in its alliance with the Congress, the erstwhile royals who were with the Congress have not been able to get tickets. As part of the opposition INDIA bloc, Congress has got 17 seats in UP while West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee-led Trinamool Congress has got one seat. The remaining 62 seats in UP are being contested by the SP.

Aridaman Singh of the Bhadawar royal family of Agra was a six-time MLA from the Bah assembly constituency and minister in the BJP-led state government. He contested the 2009 Lok Sabha election as a BJP candidate but lost. His wife Rani Pakshalika Singh is still a BJP MLA from Bah. Pakshalika Singh had lost the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Fatehpur Sikri seat on the SP ticket.

Descendants of both Raja Ajit Pratap Singh of Pratapgarh and former prime minister Vishwanath Pratap Singh of the erstwhile royal family of Manda are no longer active in politics. Raja Ajit Pratap Singh won the Lok Sabha election from Pratapgarh in 1962 and 1980. His son Abhay Pratap Singh won the seat in 1991 but grandson Anil Pratap Singh failed despite several attempts.

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