Jaya Prada Joins BJP, Likely to Battle Friend-Turned-Foe and SP Veteran Azam Khan for Rampur

Jaya Prada Joins BJP, Likely to Battle Friend-Turned-Foe and SP Veteran Azam Khan for Rampur
Jaya Prada Joins BJP, Likely to Battle Friend-Turned-Foe and SP Veteran Azam Khan for Rampur

New Delhi: More than a decade after first winning Rampur, Jaya Prada may return to the Lok Sabha constituency to challenge Samajwadi Party strongman Azam Khan, who once ensured her victory in the seat dominated by the family of Rampur Nawabs.

The actor-turned-politician joined the BJP on Tuesday.

Just ahead of the 2004 elections, Jaya Prada who had earlier been associated with the Telugu Desam Party (TDP), joined the Samajwadi Party. The SP fielded her from Rampur to take on sitting MP, Begum Noor Bano. Jaya Prada won the elections comfortably.

But over the next five years, she got embroiled in SP’s factional politics. It was a time when Azam Khan fought a pitched battle with Amar Singh, the SP general secretary who was used by the Mulayam Singh Yadav to blunt many a powerful chieftains in his party.

Jaya Prada moved to the Amar Singh camp. Azam Khan left the SP in protest against former BJP CM Kalyan Singh joining hands with Mulayam. Rampur elections in 2009 was one of the most interesting battles watched keenly both within the SP and outside.

The SP re-nominated Jaya Prada to contest from Rampur. Out of party, Azam Khan was seen as someone opposing her candidature. In the changed political dynamics, he was seen to be extending tacit support to a strong candidate against the SP. It was none other than Noor Banu, the Rampur Begum whose defeat he had ensured by brining Jaya Prada to Rampur five years ago.

The perception grew very fast, and Noor Bano, in the run-up to the polling, emerged as an Azam Khan-supported candidate, and Jaya Prada as someone who was standing up to the Rampur strongman.

As the BJP was largely perceived to be on a weak wicket, the anti-Azam Khan vote in that election mobilised towards Jaya Prada. That included a large section of the BJP voters that saw her as the real challenger to Khan’s dominance over district politics.

Jaya Prada’s mentor in SP, Amar Singh, played an important role in creating this binary as he continued to provoke Khan throughout the campaign and before.

Jaya Prada won from Rampur once again in 2009.

Five years later, things in the SP altered to force Amar Singh out of the party. She followed suit to join Ajit Singh’s RLD, contested from Bijnor and lost comprehensively. She stood 4th, with just over 24,000 votes.

With BJP, Jaya Prada has joined a national party for the first time.

But 2019 elections in many ways is little different from the previous three. The SP-BSP are in alliance. Azam Khan has a cushion of Dalit votes. And it’s a constituency which the BJP won by not very large margin even in the Modi wave.

All eyes will be on Congress’ choice for the high-profile Rampur seat. Will the grand old party again field someone from the Nawab family to under-cut Azam Khan’s base amongst Muslims in Rampur?

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