The seat has been an SP stronghold since 1989, when Yadav had begun making his presence felt in the state politics. This time, the party cadre is concerned over the increasing foothold of the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party [ Images ] candidates, which could affect victory margins.
But the lament is a familiar one. It was only last year that thousands of potato and garlic farmers here were forced to leave their homes in search of a livelihood, after the prices nosedived due to record production.
And yet, economic backwardness is not the poll issue even as the SP president has appealed to the voters to enable him retain his 'honour' of representing Mainpuri in Parliament. He is also reported to have apologised at a public meeting for dumping the seat to retain the Badaun constituency in 2004, before fielding his nephew and the country's youngest MP, Dharmendra [ Images ] Singh Yadav.
Dharmedra has repeatedly been held responsible for the increasing interference in the Panchayat elections in 2005, apart from being accused for igniting an 'arms race' in the region. The issue of cancelling 5,000 arms licences by the Mainpuri District Majistrate, S Ministhy Dilip, last month was splashed in the media after Yadav allegedly threatened to teach her a 'lesson' for her 'unwomanly' conduct.
The district administration had found thousands of cases of bogus arms licences obtained through influential political connections. According to official records, Mainpuri has more than 130 arms shops and over 20,000 arms licence holders. Sources say that even arms licences of prohibited bores had been sought during previous regime.
Bharatiya Kisan Union district president, Tilak Singh Rajput, says that the local peasant is still awaiting the compensation for the land acquired 25 years ago for the Devi road bypass.
The constituency has 27 per cent Yadav voters, besides a sizeable Lodh population, another middle caste. The BSP has quietly engaged ex-SP leaders like MLA Updesh Chauhan, Ashok Chauhan and SPS Yadav apart from the state minister, Jayavir Singh, hoping to make a headway by wooing the Kshatriya voters, which has the reputation of being traditionally hostile to the Yadavs.
BJP candidate Tripti Shakya, also a Bollywood singer, is expecting to cut into the female voters apart from the significant Shakya vote in the constituency.
On the other hand, the SP has engaged its sitting Member of Parliament Neeraj Shekhar, son of former prime minister Chandra Shekhar, and its state-level secretary, Om Prakash Singh, in its poll campaign to prevent the exodus of Kshatriya votes, which have traditionally been SP's bete noire in the region.