The Congress on Wednesday pitched self-styled spiritual guru Acharya Pramod Krishnam as its Lucknow candidate for the Lok Sabha polls, a day after the Samajwadi Party fielded Shatrughan Sinha’s wife Poonam Sinha from there. Poonam Sinha joined the Samajwadi Party on Tuesday.

The two will contest against the current Lucknow MP and Union minister Rajnath Singh.

On Wednesday, the Samajwadi Party had requested the Rahul Gandhi-led party not to field a candidate from the constituency in order to help their coalition with the Bahujan Samaj Party defeat the Bharatiya Janata Party.

The Congress candidate runs an ashram in Sambhal and was their candidate from there in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls, NDTV reported. Krishnam had lost to BJP candidate Satya Pal Singh. In 2015, Krishnam drew parallels between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the Indian Mujahideen and accused him of being responsible for the “growing intolerance” in India.

Krishnam had founded the Hindustan United Movement party with Bareilly-based cleric Tauqir Raza before he was allotted the Congress ticket in 2014.

The Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party alliance had excluded the Congress from its coalition ahead of the Lok Sabha elections in the state.

Actor-politician Shatrughan Sinha officially joined the Indian National Congress on April 6 at the party’s headquarters in New Delhi. Soon after he joined the party, the Congress had announced that Sinha would contest from Patna Sahib Lok Sabha constituency in Bihar. The Bharatiya Janata Party had denied the ticket from Patna Sahib to Sinha, a two-term MP from that seat.