Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Akhilesh Yadav's quest for redemption in Kannauj

The caste equations of the constituency, which is known to be an Samajwadi Party stronghold, have made the contest an even one.
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 18:50 IST
Last Updated : 11 May 2024, 18:50 IST

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Kannauj (UP): The fragrance from the Attar (perfume) manufacturing units in Kannauj, which is often compared with Grasse in France and is known as the Perfume Capital of India, is not the only thing making headlines this election season.

Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav is on a mission to avenge his wife Dimple Yadav’s loss here in 2019 and wrest the seat from the BJP.

Locked in a tough contest and amid murmurs of resentment within his party in this constituency, Akhilesh has been trying hard to strike an emotional chord with the electorate by invoking his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, with whom he had visited the town first time almost 24 years back.

‘’Netaji (Mulayam) brought me here for the first time and he had appealed to you (electorate) to make me a politician,’’ said Akhilesh, who had entered active politics after winning the LS by-poll here in 2000.

‘’I did not, then, even know how to deliver a political speech but I got your support,’’ he said.

Akhilesh realises that the contest is not easy. Dimple had lost to BJP’s Subrat Pathak by a slender margin in 2019. BJP has re-nominated Pathak, who has sought to liken the contest this time to an India-Pakistan cricket match. ‘’Now the electorate of Kannauj will get to see an India-Pakistan-like contest,’’ Pathak had said after Akhilesh filed his nomination papers.

The caste equations of the constituency, which is known to be an SP stronghold, have made the contest an even one.

While there are 4.5 lakh Yadav and Muslim voters in the constituency, who are more or less rooting for Akhilesh, there also are 2.5 lakh Brahmins and two lakh Dalit voters, many of whom had voted for the BJP last time.

Electoral Pitch

Besides, the BSP has sought to queer Akhilesh’s electoral pitch by fielding a Muslim from this seat hoping to bag the Dalit and Muslim votes. The OBCs also have a sizable presence here and both Akhilesh and Pathak have been trying hard to woo them.

‘’Muslims are by and large with the SP’’ says Imran, a resident of the town, sitting at a roadside tea stall. ‘’BSP will also get Muslim votes,’’ countered Shoukat Hussain, another resident.

The Dalits appear to be divided. While many of them pledged support to the BSP, some voiced their support for the saffron party also. ‘’We have been benefited by the PM Awas Yojna....we will support the BJP,’’ said a resident of Kazitola Dalit hamlet.

The SP faces internal dissent as some influential Yadav leaders, who were expelled from the party after Dimple’s loss in 2019, have since joined the BJP.

The BJP too faces internal strife. According to local BJP leaders, Pathak was not on good terms with some powerful Brahmin leaders, who too were in line for nomination.

‘’Pathak had a heated exchange with Kanahiya Dixit, an influential Brahmin leader,’’ said a local BJP worker.

Published 11 May 2024, 18:50 IST

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