Phulpur: From Nehru to mafia don

April 12th, 2009 - 12:43 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party By Rajat Rai
Phulpur (Uttar Pradesh), April 12 (IANS) Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru, 1952, 1957 and 1962. His sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit, 1967. Prime Minister V.P. Singh, 1971… Mafia don turned politician Atiq Ahmed, 2004.

When it comes to choosing its representative to the Lok Sabha, Phulpur in Uttar Pradesh appears to have fallen from grace, and how.

But this time there may be a new twist. Thanks to delimitation, large parts of this city have been appended to the Phulpur constituency, and this tail may now determine the winner.

Not all political parties preparing for this Lok Sabha election appear to have taken the change in voter composition into account. They still go by the number of voters in different castes.

But the voters say they will vote for development, not for caste or muscle power.

“We want an MP who ensures development, like roads, electricity, water and so on,” says Murali Gaur, a resident of Sadar in the heart of this city.

“Despite having an IFFCO (fertiliser) factory, we starve for fertiliser. This time we will choose a candidate who listens to us and meets our development needs,” says Rakesh Yadav of Tazuddinpur village on the city’s outskirts.

“We will definitely not vote for a gangster this time, nor go by caste,” resident Ram Milan Shukla told IANS. “We have given two prime ministers to the country. This time we will vote for an intellectual.”

But ask the campaign manager of any political party, and they reel off voters by caste. Kurmis, who go by the surname Patel, make up 350,000 of the 1.3 million voters. There are 250,000 Muslim voters, 250,000 Yadavs, 200,000 Brahmins and 150,000 Kayasthas.

From 1980 to 1999, Patel candidates won this seat six times . The Bharatiya Janata Party has fielded Karan Singh Patel and the Congress candidate is former MP Dharamraj Singh Patel.

Sitting MP Atiq Ahmed, who is with the Kurmi-dominated Apna Dal, has nominated Sone Lal Patel. Ahmed has shifted to another seat.

The state’s ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded a Brahmin, Kapil Muni Karwaria. “With three Patel candidates, we are confident of a split in these votes and that will help us,” said a BSP leader.

The Samajwadi Party has decided to field Shyama Charan Gupta, a businessman and former MP from Banda.

Who ultimately wins from Phulpur remains to be seen.

(Rajat Rai can be contacted at rajat.r@ians.in)

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