His nephew got scared, so Mulayam’s here: BJP’s singer-candidate

May 6th, 2009 - 4:08 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Sharat Pradhan
Mainpuri (Uttar Pradesh), May 6 (IANS) Fighting an electoral battle against a political bigwig is no mean task. More so if your are a novice like the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) 31-year-old Tripti Shakya, who is pitted against Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav from Mainpuri that goes to the polls Thursday.

Locals see it as a “deer battling against a lion in his den”. Undaunted by the odds, Shakya - an established and popular ‘bhajan’ singer - has thrown the gauntlet at the all powerful Mulayam Singh.

“His nephew Dharmendra Yadav, who had won from this seat in 2004, got so scared of me that he changed his constituency to Budaun and the fact that Mulayam Singh had to himself take the plunge from here reflects their assessment of the popular support I have here,” Shakya told IANS in an interview.

She may be new to politics, but she has found a novel way to tackle her opponent. Shakya has tried to endear herself to the masses by singing their favourite bhajans.

She is quite a rage with women in particular. And the youth too relate to her because of her very simple mannerisms, affability, uncorrupted image and her zest.

Asked if the might and stature of her opponent did not scare her, she replied: “My victory became a foregone conclusion the day the sitting Mainpuri MP decided to abandon his seat and started hunting for a safer corner. The fact that the Samajwadi Party’s national president chose to take his place here further enhanced my status.”

When asked what she would do if she came face to face with Mulayam Singh, she quipped: “I will just seek his blessings.”

Mulayam Singh has by and large refrained from uttering anything against the young woman, who had taken the plunge into the political arena virtually straight after completing her postgraduation in music from Prayag Sangeet Vidyapeeth in Allahabad.

Though Shakya knows that she is up against insurmountable odds, she is in no mood to give up. Unmindful of the scorching 40 degrees Celsius temperature over the past two weeks, she has been busy scanning every inch of the sprawling rural constituency.

“I set out early in the morning so that I can catch up with people before they proceed on their daily chores and I don’t return before 10 p.m.,” she said, while giving details of how she moves from village to village and door to door.

Does she take off with her bhajans on her own or wait for the audience to make a request? “I sing only when people express their keenness to hear their favourite bhajans,” she said.

But she has more in her arsenal, particularly the promise of development. “I am capable of giving to the people what they have never seen in Mainpuri - development,” she claimed.

“Neither Mulayam nor his nephew ever cared to do anything in the name of development of this highly neglected area, where basic civic amenities like drinking water, roads, drainage and electricity are extremely scarce. Since they always regarded Mainpuri as their pocket borough, development never figured in their scheme of things,” she said.

Shakya said: “But I am not going to sit pretty. If I am elected from here, I will owe it to the people of Mainpuri for whose good and well-being I will devote all my energies.”

When asked how she could be taken at her word, especially as she hails from Etawah and was educated in Allahabad, Shakya shot back: “I am not a ‘netaji’ (as Mulayam Singh is popularly referred to), who will make promises only to be broken. I will keep my word to prove that unlike their netaji, I am one of them, for them and by them.”

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