Debutant Mohammed Kaif on a sticky wicket in Nehru's Phulpur constituency

Debutant Mohammed Kaif on a sticky wicket in Nehru's Phulpur constituency

Known for his strong defence, former test cricketer Mohammed Kaif faces a bouncy pitch at Phulpur on his electoral debut and is toiling hard to save his wicket.

Hoping to hoist the Congress flag high in this constituency which was once represented by India's first prime minister Jawaharlal Nehru, Kaif faces a strong challenge from his rivals and has been trying hard to overcome caste equations.

The Congress has not been able to win the seat since 1984 which speaks volumes about the state of affairs in the party here. “The Congress has no presence here and Kaif will have to work very hard,'' says Dr Sirajuddin, who runs a clinic at Phulpur town.

Dr Sirajuudin said that the constituency bears testimony to utter neglect by successive representatives. 

“The area lacks even basic facilities...medical services are almost non-existent and we have to rush to Allahabad city for treatment,” he said. The locals complain that the area reels under prolonged power cuts. The poor condition of the roads has only added to the woes of the people.

The only sign of industrialization is the presence of the Indian Farmers Fertilisers' Corporation. “The region could have been developed as an industrial centre owing to its proximity with Allahabad and Varanasi but no efforts have been made in this direction by the successive governments,” says Sirajuddin.

Kaif expects to corner a large chunk of the Muslim votes which number around two lakh in this constituency besides the votes of the youngsters for whom he is an icon who helped the country win many cricket matches.

“Kaif is certainly my hero...I think he should be given a chance...he is young and understands the aspirations of the younger generation,” says Mohammed Anwar, a resident of the Phulpur town. Irfan Ahmed, Anwar's friend, however, feels that Kaif will find the going tough. “There are many bigwigs here, who are more experienced than Kaif,” he said.

Many residents of the constituency feel that the Congress should have fielded Priyanka Gandhi from the seat. “Priyanka would have been a sure winner from here...we were hoping that she will contest from here,” said Irfan.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded Dharmraj Patel in the hope of securing the size”Kurmi” and “Yadav” caste votes. BJP nominee Keshav Prasad Maurya is banking on the Modi wave to make his mark. 

Non-Yadav OBCs are expected to support the BJP this time. “There is strong support for Narendra Modi in my village,” says Sahib Lal, a resident of Ghurpur village.

The BSP has re-nominated Kapil Muni Karwaria, its sitting MP, from the seat. Karwaria hopes to garner the support of the Dalits and the Muslims to sail through. 

Nehru had represented Phulpur in the Lok Sabha in 1952, 1957 and 1962. His sister Vijayalakshmi Pandit won the seat in 1967. Rahul Gandhi had launched his election campaign in Uttar Pradesh in the 2012 Assembly polls from Phulpur.

Kaif will have to shun his defensive tactics and adopt an aggressive approach if he is to taste success in his maiden attempt to reach the Lok Sabha from Phulpur.

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