Caste, guns muzzle development issues here

Caste, guns muzzle development issues here

Known for its soft and delicious ‘imartis’ (a jalebi-like sweet dish) and radish, caste and guns seem to have muffled development issues in Jaunpur.

Although Jaunpur is situated only 50 kilometres from Varanasi, the Lok Sabha constituency of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the town appears to be bereft of any kind of development and has often been in the news for being home to a number of mafia dons, who have also dominated the political landscape here.

Mafia don-turned-politician and former BSP MP Dhananjay Singh, who faces several cases of murder, extortion and other crimes, is again in the fray from Malhani Assembly seat in the district, this time on the ticket of Nishad Party, an outfit of the Mallah (boatmen) community. Singh has also been a two-time MLA from the district.

Another mafia don of the district, Munna Bajarangi, who too faces several cases, has fielded his wife Seema Singh from Mariyahoon seat. Seema is in the fray on Apna Dal (Krishna Patel) ticket.

As many as three ministers of Akhilesh Yadav Cabinet — Paras Nath Yadav, Lalai Yadav and Jagadish Sonker — are locked in a fierce electoral battle in the district.

“Yadavs and Thakurs call the shots here...SP will gain if it is able to prevent division in the Yadav votes....On the other hand, Thakur votes may be divided owing to the presence of many candidates from the community,” says Raj Kumar Ojha, a social activist. Congress has fielded sitting MLA Nadeem Javed from Jaunpur Sadar seat. Javed’s hopes hinge mainly on the Muslim voters, who are in sizeable numbers in the constituency.

Ojha rues that caste and musclemen have dominated the electoral landscape here. “Despite being so close to Varanasi, the district continues to lie in neglect,” he says.

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