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    Kolasala assembly seat heading for a big fight

    Varanasi, April 20. (PTI): The stage is set for a big fight in the prestigious Kolasala Assembly Constituency in Uttar Pradesh where sitting BJP MLA Ajay Rai is pitted against Apna Dal leader Sone Lal Patel despite the parties having a pre-poll alliance.

    The constituency, which goes to the polls on May three, has a total of 3,09,206 voters, including about 80,000 voters from the dominant Kurmi community.

    Patel, president of Apna Dal who had tasted a bitter defeat against Rai in the 2002 Assembly Elections from the constituency and stood third behind the BSP's Avdesh Singh, is eying on the support of the Kurmi community to make his maiden entry to the state assembly.

    It may be mentioned that the AD president had threatened to derail its alliance with the BJP by staking his claim on the Kolasala seat by citing his party's performance in the 2004 Lok Sabha Elections, a claim which the saffron party ignored and gave its sitting MLA the go ahead to contest from the seat.

    Patel, who has for the first time hired a helicopter for campaign and woo the primarily rural electorate in Kolasala seat, is apparently not convinced about his prospects in the constituency and is also contesting from a second assembly constituency -- Soraon in Allahabad district.

    Rai, however, is not perturbed over serious challenges being posed by his rivals of other political parties and is banking on his time-tested support base from the Bhumihar and Brahmin communities which have about 1.2 lakh voters.

    The BJP candidate had conquered the communist bastion in 1996 by prevailing over the CPI-M giant Udal, a nine-term MLA, by a narrow margin of 484 votes. He then went on to retain this seat by defeating the BSP nominee Avdesh Singh by 15, 288 votes in the 2002 Assembly polls and improved the votes polled by him to 56,454 from 40,929 in 1996 polls.

    The BJP MLA had recently created a flutter in the political circles by visiting the senior Samajwadi Party leader and PWD Minister Shivpal Singh Yadav for reportedly seeking release of the Government funds for two road projects in his Assembly Constituency amid speculation that he might switch over his allegiance to the ruling party after the AD president decided to contest from Kolasala seat against him. BSP has again reposed faith in its nominee Avdesh Singh, an upper caste man from Bhumihar community.

    Singh would aim to poach the upper caste vote bank from the sitting MLA and bank on about 65,000 dalit voters to squeeze out a narrow victory in a multi-cornered contest.

    The BSP candidate had polled 41,186 votes in 2002 assembly polls and 32,465 voters in 1996 elections, in which he had contested from the seat as a Congress nominee.

    The Congress has, on the other hand, picked a Brahmin face, Satish Chaube as its nominee to bring back the upper caste community to its kitty. The former district unit president, Chaube would also be embattled with inner-party squabblings as the group led by the Member of Parliament (MP) Rajesh Mishra may not pitch in their support to him.

    Besides these parties, the CPI-M nominee Rama Udal would seek to establish an emotional chord with the electorate to complete the unfinished task of development started by her father Udal, who had represented the rural constituency for nine terms between 1957 and 1993. There are 10 candidates in total.

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