It's 'power' play for Azhar in Moradabad

It's 'power' play for Azhar in Moradabad

Frequent power cuts and global meltdown main issues

Congress candidate Mohd Azharuddin's supporters wear his masks during a rickshaw rally as part of party's election campaign in Moradabad on Monday. PTI

Though the “touch artist”, as he was known during his playing days, missed playing 100 Tests by a mere one match, Azhar is well on his way to fulfill his desire and start a new innings, if the trend in this western Uttar Pradesh constituency is anything to go by.
Azhar, clad in a blue jeans, matching blue T-shirt and dark glasses, thus preferring to discard the trademake kurta-pyjama of a typical politician, is summoning all his cricketing acumen and experience to ensure a smooth sailing in the polls. Recently, cricketing icon Kapil Dev campaigned for him.

Azhar told Deccan Herald  less than a week ago: “I have been getting huge crowds wherever I go. The response has been overwhelming. As a cricketer, that’s not unusual for me. But I only hope that all of them will turn up to vote for me”.

If he wins, then the man who scored over 6000 Test and 9000-odd one-day runs will become the first Congressman in 25 years to wrest Moradabad. The party registered a victory last time from here way back in 1984. So pathetic was the party  machinery that it did not even put up a candidate in 2004. But the candidature of Azhar has galvanised the party in no small measure.

Everywhere he goes, either in this crowded industrialised city or rural areas, Azhar has a standard promise: To rid the constituency of power generators. Irritated by the frequent power cuts,  he says: “Can you believe, Moradabad does not have power 14-16 hours a day. My first priority after victory is to address this problem.”

But he has not addressed a bigger problem, the global economic downturn, which had wrecked havoc in this town, otherwise known as “Brass City”.

Scores of brassware units were closed down and over a lakh of people lost jobs recently due to the recession. In a way, the lanes and bylanes of this  peetal nagri, which also houses aluminium, iron and glassware units, it is not election that is talked about but the current fate of the brass business and the effects of slowdown. According to one estimate, Moradabad and outskirts were doing a turnover of Rs 2500 crore a year through 400 factories, which has now come down to a trickle.

Around 5.5 lakh Muslim voters, besides 2 lakh Dalits, hold the key to the electoral outcome. But, Azhar is not banking on Muslim votes alone.