Prestige at stake for UP's ruling family in bangle town

Prestige at stake for UP's ruling family in bangle town

Tempos and rickshaws packed with glassware, colourful bangles and “kangans” criss-crossing the crowded streets camouflages the hectic election campaign in this “bangle town” of Uttar Pradesh where prestige of the state’s ruling family is at stake

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Samajwadi Party (SP) chief Mulayam Singh Yadav’s nephew Akshoy Yadav (brother Ram Gopal Yadav’s son), who is making his electoral debut, is locked in a fierce battle.

The SP is not taking any chances this time around. It was here that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple lost to Raj Babbar of the Congress in the 2009 by-polls.

Incidentally, Dimple, too, was making her electoral debut. In a constituency where muslims and yadavs form a sizable chunk of the electorate, the SP should have had very little reasons to worry. But the situation is cloudy owing to the “Modi Wave”.

And for a change, the dalit voters have acquired the centre stage. The BJP has fielded S  P Singh Baghel, who crossed over to the saffron fold from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Baghel lost the 2009 polls to Akhilesh by 60,000 votes. “The BJP is eyeing the sizeable dalit voters along with the non-yadav OBC electorate,” says Mohammed Aslam, a resident of Ferozabad.

Aslam told Deccan Herald that muslims were “solidly behind” the SP. The muslims had deserted the SP in the 2009 polls and supported Babbar, but they have returned to the party fold.

Babbar has shifted to Ghaziabad for the ensuing elections. “The fight is between the SP and BJP....we are with Mulayam. But dalit votes are likely to be the deciding factor...if the BJP nominee is able to wean away a large number of dalit votes, then Akshoy will be in trouble,” Aslam added.

He said that BSP supremo Mayawati had appealed to the dalits to “punish” Baghel by not voting for him.

“A majority of dalits will follow her diktat,” Aslam believes. But some may not. “Baghel will wean away some dalit votes,” says Surendra Sagar, a resident of Tundla, an Assembly segment in the constituency.

No wonder the SP leaders have been trying hard to woo the dalits as well. Ram Gopal Yadav had been active here ever since it was decided that Akshoy would contest from the seat.

Local problems also are posing difficulties for the SP.

The bangle industry is facing threat from China and the rise in the cost of raw materials has forced many small scale operators to shut shop.

“Chinese threat is very serious,” says Mohammed Salim, a local glass merchant. Poor condition of roads, power and drinking water problems are some pressing issues here.
But most people feel that “caste” will be the deciding factor.

The BSP has fielded Biswadeep Singh, while the Congress has fielded a local brahmin in Arvind Chaturvedi. The locals feel that Chaturvedi may make a dent into the brahmin votes of the BJP.

The constituency goes to polls on Thursday and it remains to be seen if Akshoy turns out to be luckier than Dimple.

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