Azharuddin may have been looking for another victory from a “friendly pitch” far away from here but Moradabad, also known as the “brass city” (the city is famous for its brass industry), is still “deeply hurt” over what it terms his “betrayal”.
After all, the people here had voted for him rising above caste and religious considerations in 2009, something which is rarely seen in Uttar Pradesh electoral politics.
Moradabad voted Azharuddin, the Congress candidate, to a victory of over 50,000 votes margin, trouncing the local BJP stalwart Sarvesh Singh. Azhar had then promised to transform the constituency. To the youths, he had promised to develop world-class sports facilities here but never bothered to show up after winning. The locals had put “missing” posters in the town offering reward to anyone who manages to trace the former India captain.
“Aye hi nahin... na hi kuch kiya yehan ke liye” (he never came here nor did anything for the area), says Mohammed Mustakeem, a Moradabad based social scientist.
Akaram, who was among the poll managers of Azhar then, is also “very angry” with him.
“Azhar’s betrayal will hurt the Congress’ chances here,” he told while speaking to Deccan Herald.
Sensing the “hostile mood” in the constituency, Azharuddin shifted to Rajasthan and the “brass city” is now back to its old ways-caste and religion.
“The constituency needs development. Unfortunately, it does not become an issue in the polls,” says Anamika Tripathi, a faculty at a local degree college here. In a constituency where Muslims form around 40 per cent of the total electorate, it is not surprising at all that everyone is going all out to ensure a polarisation in their favour. Incidentally, barring the BJP nominee, the other main contenders from BSP, Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress are muslims.
The BSP nominee is the controversial former state minister Haji Yaqoob Qureshi, who had shot into limelight after he declared a reward of Rs 1 crore to whosoever beheaded the Danish cartoonist, who had caricatured Prophet Muhammed.
SP has fielded former Mayor of Moradabad town S T Hasan, who commands respect among the dwellers. But party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s recent remarks opposing death penalty for rapists could affect his chances as the women in the constituency appear to be very angry. “Mulayam’s remark is humiliating…he cannot be forgiven,” said Anita Agarwal, a woman lawyer. Women’s organisations also staged demonstrations here against the remarks.
BJP nominee Sarvesh Singh banks on “Modi wave”. “We want Modi to be the prime minister,” said Rajkumar Saini, a tea vender. Sarvesh, an MLA from Thakurdwara assembly seat, however faces opposition from within the local BJP unit.