Is getting elected as MP from UP a pre-requisite for being in race for PM post?

By Soroor Ahmed,,

Perhaps getting elected as a member of Parliament from any Lok Sabha constituency in Uttar Pradesh, especially from its eastern half, has become a sort of pre-requisite for being in the race for the post of prime minister. So apart from other considerations the Bharatiya Janata Party’s prime ministerial pick, Narendra Modi, might have taken this fact into account before deciding to file his nomination papers from Benaras, along with Baroda in Gujarat.

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Right from 1952 to 1977 all the three prime ministers were member of Parliament from east UP. While Jawaharlal Nehru represented Allahabad (East) in 1952 he got elected from Phulpur in 1957 and 1962. His successor, Lal Bahadur Shashtri, was MP from Allahabad, when he became the prime minister. Indira Gandhi won from Rae Bareli in 1967, 1971 and 1980 while she lost in 1977 to Raj Narain in the post-Emergency anti-Congress wave.

However, she entered the Lok Sabha as an opposition member by winning by-election from Chikmagalur in Karnataka in 1978.

On her comeback trail in 1980 she contested and won from both Rae Bareli and Medak. However, for a change, she decided to retain Medak and gave up Rae Bareli.

Morarji Desai (1977-79) was the first prime minister from outside Uttar Pradesh. He was MP from Surat in Gujarat while his successor, Charan Singh, who broke away from the then Janata Party, used to represent Baghpat, which is in UP, but in its western half.

After Indira Gandhi’s assassination it was Rajiv Gandhi who became the Prime Minister. He was MP from Amethi. Then in 1989 Vishwanath Pratap Singh got elected from Fatehpur, also in the same state.

His successor, Chandrashekhar, who became the prime minister in 1990 after splitting Janata Dal, was MP from Ballia in UP––on the border with Bihar. In 1989 Lok Sabha election Chandrashekhar had contested from both Ballia as well as Maharajganj in Bihar, but gave up the latter.

It was in 1991 that Narasimha Rao got elected from outside Uttar Pradesh while both Deve Gowda and Inder Kumar Gujral were the Rajya Sabha MP from Karnataka and Bihar respectively. Rao was in fact elected in November 1991 by-poll from Nandyal with a record margin of 5.8 lakh votes.

Then again, Atal Bihari Vajpayee used to represent Lucknow in central UP in all the three times he became the prime minister––1996, 1998 and 1999.

Interestingly, he has the rare distinction of getting elected to Parliament from four different states––Madhya Pradesh, Gujarat, Delhi and Uttar Pradesh––but became the PM only when he got elected from the last named state.

This raises a very pertinent question. Has Lal Krishna Advani’s failure to reach the top job anything to do with his decision not to contest even once from UP. He had represented Gujarat and Delhi and this time came closer to contest from Bhopal in Madhya Pradesh.

From 2004 till now the country has the prime minister (Manmohan Singh) who is not a member of the Lok Sabha, but of Rajya Sabha from Assam.

Perhaps Modi chose Uttar Pradesh, especially its eastern half, as no prime minister other than Narasimha Rao––there are 13 in all––has completed full term if elected to Lok Sabha from outside this state. Manmohan Singh may be the exception because he is the member of the Upper House.

Modi’s challenger from the Congress, Rahul Gandhi, is once again fighting from Amethi in the state. Even Arvind Kejriwal of Aam Admi Party, originally from Haryana, is taking on Modi from Benaras.

It is an interesting fact that Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which used to send maximum number of work force to other states, have given opportunity to a large number of carpetbaggers to contest election and enter Parliament.