In Fatehpur Sikri, Uttar Pradesh, BJP's Rajkumar Chahar has taken a massive 82.2 per cent lead, belying campaigning stage expectations of a tight three-way contest against Congress and the BSP. In fact, he has left UP Congress president Raj Babbar trailing far behind with just 13.58 per cent of the vote share.
Interestingly, the 66-year-old actor-turned-politician had been seen as a rare Congress chance in a traditional stronghold of the saffron party - in West UP, the BJP has averaged one-third of the votes polled since 1991. Between 1996 and 2014, the Samajwadi Party averaged 29% and the BSP 21%. The BJP's choice to field Chahar, in fact, had raised eyebrows since he lacked any experience in MP elections and had unsuccessfully fought for the MLA seat thrice. On the other hand, Babbar was riding high courtesy a great deal of support among locals due to his previous tenure as Agra MP. But, clearly, everybody gets to piggy-back on the predicted NaMo tsunami.
Meanwhile, BSP's Guddu Pandit, aka Bhagwan Sharma, has not fared well. This takes away the threat posed by the Mahagathbandhan in this constituency at least. If you add up the votes drawn by the parties in the Grand Alliance in 2014 - when the BSP, SP and RLD had fought separately - and assume an encore, the BJP would have clearly lost this seat. But because of the choice of candidate, the fight for Fatehpur Sikri boiled down to Raj vs Raj, or Congress vs BJP, and it is advantage BJP so far.
The early trends are not auspicious for Babbar, who has a lot riding on the outcome of the polls. If he again fails to win Fatehpur Sikri, speculation is rife that he will have to cede command of Uttar Pradesh to Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, and that will be quite a blow to his political career. Babbar had contested from this seat in 2009 as well but had lost to the BSP's Seema Upadhyay by a margin of 9,936 votes.
In the 2014 elections, BJP's Choudhary Babulal had won this seat with 4,26,584 votes while the SP got 2,13,397 votes, the BSP 2,53,483 votes and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) 24,185 votes. Let's see if Chahar can better this record.
Fatehpur Sikri had voted in Phase 2 of the polls, conducted on April 18.