Rajnath's son Pankaj is poll ready

Rajnath's son Pankaj is poll ready

In 2007, BJP leader Pankaj Singh was offered a ticket to contest the Assembly elections from Varanasi.

But, Pankaj recalls politely turning down the offer so that he could take up apprenticeship in grassroot politics.

A decade later, Pankaj believes that he has toiled his way up in the party to finally take a plunge into electoral politics and at the same time shrug off  skepticism he insists others have tried to pin on his entry near to every polls by raking up his dynasty links.

Pankaj, the general secretary of party’s Uttar Pradesh unit, is the elder son of Home Minister Rajnath Singh. His nomination from Noida Assembly seat was subject of speculation this time, too, that gained currency due to the BJP holding back to clear his name only in the second list of 155 candidates announced on January 22. In a triangular contest, he is pitted against Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Sunil Chaudhary and Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Ravikant Mishra. 

Pankaj rejected the charge that he is ‘an outsider’ as the Opposition was trying to bill him during a lengthy interaction with DH on Friday. He stressed that he has been in and around Noida for years and said, “I am from amongst them and want to be with them”.

Throughout the day’s campaigning in urban areas – such as in sector 33 – and in Chalera and Sadarpur villages of Noida which is considered as a safe seat for the BJP among three constituencies of Gautam Budh Nagar, Pankaj refrained from making tall promises.
But he assured voters, like during his address at Chalera village marriage hall, that together with the people he will fight for their problems.

Pankaj did not mention his father’s name once while campaigning, though Rajnath was chief minister and two-time BJP president and is now an MP from Lucknow.

Pankaj sought votes to “strengthen hands” of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, referred to surgical strikes and demonetisation of currency notes, and took on the SP and BSP for plundering Noida and the state financially.

“Noida generates Rs 14,800 crore revenue annually. Where has the money gone? It has been pocketed by some who have put it in Saifai (hinting at SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav’s native), and by others who have made memorials and life size busts (alluding to BSP chief Mayawati),” Pankaj said, drawing applause from the crowd. Pankaj also read out the measures initiated the Centre for farmers’ welfare.

Left pin hopes on alternative policies

The Left may not be a major force in Uttar Pradesh but six parties, including the CPM, are fighting Assembly polls in the largest state to put up “alternative” policies, DHNS reports from New Delhi. These parties – the CPI, CPI(MLL), SUCI, Forward Bloc and the RSP, besides the CPM — will be fighting in 140 of 403 seats in the state, raising issues of agony caused by demonetisation and farm distress among others. CPM general secretary Sitaram Yechury said his party will raise Left alternative politics in its campaign where its candidates are fighting.

“We need to take these issues to the people, build pressure. We need to ensure the presence of the Left parties the Assembly for raising people’s issues and putting pressure on the government,” he said, adding that one of their focuses would be to defeat the BJP.

“Following demonetisation, the informal sector is the worst hit. They contribute to 45% of the economy and 85% of the employment. The economy is shattered by this move. Take the case of agriculture sector. There is no farm activity. There is no cash availability. At places where harvest has taken place, the farmers are not getting Minimum Support Price (MSP). The MSP of paddy, which is fixed at Rs 1,541 per tonne, has gone down to Rs 700-800 per tonne,” Yechury told DH.

The Left leaders believe that the joint fight would help in uniting the Left forces in Uttar Pradesh. They have chosen the constituencies where they have some presence and where they have been active in local struggles. An editorial in the CPM’s mouthpiece People’s Democracy states that apart from putting forth alternative policies, they will
conduct a sustained campaign to expose the “reactionary communal character of the BJP”.

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