Congress’ three ‘islands of hope’ in Eastern UP can go anybody’s way
Outside Amethi and Rae Bareli Congress has ‘islands of hope’ in Mirzapur, Kushinagar and Maharajganj.
Former union minister RPN Singh, an erstwhile royal, in Kushinagar is making the fight mostly about the sugarcane issue and non-working sugar mills. Lalitesh Tripathi, great grandson of former chief minister Kamalapati Tripathi, is hard-selling the ‘Nyay’ minimum income promise of his “72,000 wali party” in Mirzapur. Journalist turned-politician Supriya Shrinate in Maharajganj is reminding voters how no development has happened in the last five years under BJP rule in the constituency compared to what her late father Harsh Vardhan did as an MP.
Leaders of the SP-BSP alliance and BJP dismiss all three candidates, saying the ‘real fight’ is between them.
BJP leaders pointed out Lalitesh Tripathi had lost both 2014 Lok Sabha elections and 2017 assembly elections, and said Shrinate’s entry in Maharajganj “was too late” to have any major impact. A senior alliance leader said they are working overtime to ensure RPN Singh’s defeat.
The Congress candidates, though, are hopeful of winning the elections.
“The main issue here is the nonworking sugar mills,” Singh told ET. “Where do my farmers take their sugarcane? Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised to start a sugar mill in Kushinagar in 100 days? He failed to deliver. It was my family which in the 1920s started sugar mills here.”
Chief minister Yogi Adityanath has assured voters that the defunct sugar mill in Kushinagar would be started soon. “Samajwadi Party government closed the mills here; BSP sold them,” Yogi said. BJP has dropped its sitting MP in Kushinagar, Rajesh Pandey, and fielded Vijay Kumar Dubey to take on Singh, who polled almost 2.84 lakh votes in 2014, and SP’s Nathuni Prasad Kushwaha.
The alliance, too, seems in a strong position here, given the caste equation. Rahul Gandhi is set to campaign for Singh here on May 16.
In Mirzapur, Tripathi is busy telling people how they got no development in the backward area despite electing BJP both at the Centre and the state, and their MP Anupriya Patel of Apna Dal becoming a union minister. He is also focusing on his party’s ‘Nyay’ promise, mentioning it in his each speech, given there will be lot of beneficiaries of the scheme here.
“The day the promise was announced, I could see people in my constituency refer to the Congress as the ’72,000 wali party’ —the awareness for it is high,” Tripathi told ET. He said he is not certainly a “vote-cutter” but is strongly in contention to win.
The going is not that easy for him, though, as the ruling NDA alliance won all the five assembly segments in the constituency in 2017. So, Patel is confident. Then the a l -liance candidate, Ram Charitra Nishad of SP, too, is seen as a strong contender.
The battle in Maharajganj for Congress’ Supriya Shrinate, former editor of ET Now, a sister organisation of this newspaper, rests on her political legacy as she takes on five-time BJP MP Pankaj Chaudhary. “Harsh Vardhan is still remembered as among the couple of big leaders from Maharajganj,” one among a group of shopkeepers in Maharajganj town who spoke with ET said about Shrinathe’s father and former MP. The lack of development is palpable in Maharajganj but caste equations still seem supreme. The alliance has fielded Akhilesh Singh of SP, who had won the general elections here in 1999, from Maharajganj.