One of the most politically important areas in the forthcoming Indian general election is expected to be the northern state of Uttar Pradesh.
One of the most politically important areas in the forthcoming Indian general election is expected to be the northern state of Uttar Pradesh. On Thursday (17 February), the Indian Prime Minister, Mrs. Indira Gandhi, and her son Sanjay filed nominations to contest adjoining seats in the state.
SYNOPSIS: Sultanpur lies in the Amethi district and it was there that Sanjay Gandhi - in the centre with glasses - filed his candidates papers. The Prime Minister's son is the leader of the five-and-a-half-million-strong Youth Congress. It will be his first parliamentary campaign. The ruling Congress Party have laid great importance on taking the sprawling northern state where 52 million voters will send 85 representatives to parliament.
Sanjay Gandhi has received a lot of criticism from the opposition parties for his growing influence within the ruling Congress. His influence on party affairs, despite the fact that he holds no elective office, has made him an election issue. He seems to have a safe seat in Amethi, but much attention will be focused on his success or failure in the election.
Mrs. Gandhi faces a tougher battle in her efforts to retain her seat than her son. She will be opposed by her old rival, Raj Narain, a veteran socialist. She beat Mr. Narain by more than 100,000 votes in the 1971 election, but a lot of the Prime Minister's support in the state has been eroded during 19 months of the internal emergency. Mr. Narain spent most of that 19 months in prison under the emergency regulations, and was freed only ten days before the last date for the electoral nominations to be entered. The Congress Party is contesting 490 seats across the country but of the 542 which make up the lower house of parliament. The main opposition Janata Party has announced it will contest 375 seats, and oppose the ruling party in another 134 through allied parties. With the nominations now closed, everything will rest on the election itself between the 16th and 20th of March.