Housing less than 400 people, Pakhrauli village has three approach roads. Every single street is cemented; electricity, roads, bank, police outpost, farmers’ service centre and hospital, all came its way when “Pakhrauli’s son” Babu Singh Kushwaha was a minister in the Mayawati government.
Babu Singh was known for proximity to BSP chief Mayawati before he was expelled from party and made an accused in NRHM scam by CBI. He was arrested after the 2012 Assembly polls and has been in jail since.
And this is the first election when Babu Singh, who was BSP’s Most Backward Class (MBC) face, matters the least. He was briefly courted by the BJP before the 2012 assembly elections and now SP has fielded his wife from Ghazipur in pursuit of Kushwaha votes.
“Whatever his deeds, everyone in the village is saddened he is in jail as he is the village son. But this time everyone will vote according to their own choice,” said Rashpal Kushwaha, a farmer.
The SP isn’t his option as Babu Singh’s wife has joined the party. “I will not say which party will I support. I will vote of my own accord. There is a lot of talk about Narendra Modi and other parties as well,” he said.
With Babu Singh in jail, there is no political mobilisation on caste lines in the village. “This time Kushwahas are all divided here. While some will vote for BJP, some will go with the SP,” said Ram Kishor Kushwaha, another farmer.
He said the BJP will get support because of Modi but some Kushwahas will go for SP in order to show their solidarity with Babu Singh’s family.
In this village with no Brahmin and Kshatriya households, many talk of giving a chance to the BJP. “Everyone is talking about Modi. He has done good work in Gujarat. I am going to vote for BJP, so will many other villagers,” says Ramnath Prajapati,an MBC, standing outside Babu Singh’s ancestral house.
Prajapati is supported by Nathu, a Dalit of Kori sub-caste, who says the BJP should be given a chance.
Meanwhile, the entry of Babu Singh’s family in SP has consolidated village’s Muslims with the SP. “All that the village has got, from electricity to roads and bank, was because of mantriji(Babu Singh). We earlier voted for BSP when he was with them. We will vote for the SP,” says Mohd Ilahi.
The SP candidate here is Bal Kumar Patel. BSP has fielded RK Singh Patel. BJP candidate is Bhairon Prasad Mishra while Congress’s is Banda MLA Vivek Kumar Singh.