Stage is set for a three-cornered contest for the high-profile Lucknow Lok Sabha seat after Poonam Sinha of the Samajwadi Party and Sambhal seer Acharya Pramod Krishnam of the Indian National Congress filed their nominations on Thursday.

Union Home Minister and sitting MP Rajnath Singh had submitted his papers on 16 April.

Polling in Lucknow will be held on 6 May in the fifth phase of the Lok Sabha polls.

Thursday, 18 April, was the last date for filing nominations for the constituencies, including Lucknow.

Poonam Sinha, who is the wife of Shatrughan Sinha, the Congress candidate from Patna Sahib in Bihar, had joined the Samajwadi Party on Tuesday.

That she had been inducted in the party for the specific purpose to contest against Rajnath was a foregone conclusion once she arrived in Lucknow on Tuesday.

She filed her nomination papers at the district collectorate and later participated in a road show. Present along with her in the road show were Shatrughan Sinha and Samajwadi Party candidate from Kannauj, Dimple Yadav.

The road show started from the Samajwadi Party headquarters. Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav was conspicuous by his absence; he was in Azamgarh.

Akhilesh filed his nomination from the Azamgarh Lok Sabha seat on Thursday. Election in Azamgarh will be held in the sixth phase on May 12.

Poonam Sinha’s candidature has been backed by the Samajwadi Party’s alliance partners – Bahujan Samaj Party and Rashtriya Lok Dal.

By fielding her from Lucknow, the SP is banking on the support from the Sindhi and Kayastha voters given that Poonam Sinha is a Sindhi (maiden name Poonam Chandrimani) and her husband, Shatrughan, a Kayastha.

The Kayastha and Sindhi voters number about 3 lakh and 1.3 lakh, respectively. But over the years and in successive Lok Sabha polls they have backed the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Samajwadi Party is also banking on the support of the Muslim voters, whose number is around 3.5 lakh.

This will be Poonam Sinha’s maiden entry in electoral politics.

Brahmins also constitute a dominant section of Lucknow’s electorate. The dominant presence of Brahmins and other upper caste voters seems to have guided the Congress Party’s decision to field Acharya Pramod Krishnam, a Brahmin, against Rajnath Singh, a Thakur.

Talking to reporters after filing his nomination, Pramod Krishnam said in the ongoing Lok Sabha polls is a fight between two ideologies – one which tries to foster hatred and the other which aims at uniting the people of the country.

Since he is locked in a three-cornered contest in Lucknow, Pramod Krishnam attacked both the BJP and SP-BSP combine.

Since the upper caste, particularly Brahmin, voters exert a decisive influence in the poll outcome in Lucknow, the Congress had preferred to field a Brahmin. The names of Jitin Prasada (Tiwari) and Pramod Tiwari had done the rounds in Congress circles.

The Congress has not held the Lucknow seat since 1984 when Sheila Kaul, a Kashmiri Pandit, was elected to Parliament.