Modi wave to keep Maneka afloat in Pilibhit fray

Modi wave to keep Maneka afloat in Pilibhit fray

Senior BJP leader Maneka Gandhi, who slammed Rahul for ''ignoring'' Amethi a day after her son Varun Gandhi “praised” the Congress vice-president, is facing criticism for not doing anything in Pilibhit constituency despite being its representative in Parliament since 1989 except for one occasion.

Although the electorate of her constituency have against her a long list of complaints ranging from absence of educational facilities, roads, acute power shortage, the severest of them is Maneka’s “failure” to work for upgradation of the old meter gauge railway line to broad gauge though she was a minister in the Union cabinet twice in the past.

“Maneka never made any effort to get the meter gauge line converted into broad gauge. Lack of broad gauge has adversely affected business here. Despite numerous requests, she did not take any interest as she felt that it would impact the environment,’” said Ravinder Pal Singh, a lawyer from the area.

“At a time, when metro train is being introduced in many cities in the country, we still have to travel by meter gauge trains,” said 60-year old Mahendra Talwar, who runs a medical store in the town.

The residents of the town also complain about the lack of technical institutions which forces them to send their children outside for engineering and medical courses.

Maneka had got an inter college constructed 15 years ago but it remains non-functional owing to lack of recognition from the state government.

There has also been a demand for a tiger reserve in Pilibhit but she paid no attention to it, they said.

Despite criticism, Maneka still remains favourite owing to what many perceive as the “Modi Wave”. “Maneka is likely to win not because of her work but because of Modi,” says 84-year old Radhey Shyam Saxena.

Saxena, though a saffron activist, is not happy with Maneka. “She could have done a lot for Pilibhit but she never bothered about the problems here,” he said.

The slogan “Menka to majboori hai, Modi bahut jaroori hai” (Maneka is compulsion, Modi is necessity) amply sums up the mood.

The younger lot seems to be won over by Modi. The Samajwadi Party has fielded Budhsen Verma, a local while the BSP has nominated Anees Ahmed Khan. Congress has given ticket to its MLA from the nearby Bilaspur Assembly seat Sanjay Kapur. A majority of “Vermas” (an OBC), total population of around 4.5 lakh, is likely to support the SP nominee but the BJP MLA from Bisalpur Ram Saran Verma is likely to wean away some of them. Muslim votes, which number around two lakh, may be divided between Khan and the SP.

The “Gangwars”, another OBC community numbered around 2.5 lakh, are likely to support the BJP.

The 1 lakh “Sikh” votes, too, appear to be divided. Many of them could support the SP this time, says Talwar.

Maneka’s main rival seems to be Verma. She may win but with a reduced margin this time.

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