Fighting a hard battle, sitting MP Jayant Chaudhary admits that his rival and yesteryear Bollywood dream girl Hema Malini comes with a star appeal but claims his relationship with the constituency is real and people will choose issues over face.
The 35-year-old Rashtriya Lok Dal leader and son of party chief Ajit Singh, who has been extensively campaigning in Mathura and seven other constituencies where RLD candidates are fighting elections, dismisses talk of anti-incumbency against him.
“Serious politics needs serious people not faces. It is not easy, it is not role playing. You have to open your heart and stay in the middle of your people. There is intimacy in this relationship.
“It is not that you can wear a mask and repeat a few dialogues and the public will come with you,” said Chaudhary taking a dig at the his main rival from BJP who campaigned for him in the last elections when BJP and RLD were together.
When asked whether pitting Hema Malini against him would hurt his chances, Chaudhary asserts that his performance in Parliament is far better than what his rival did in Rajya Sabha.
“I have no problem in being with people, meeting them and talking to them which I have proved with my campaign. As far as Parliamentary performance is concerned, she has been an MP for seven years whereas I have completed only one term. I have more than 80 per cent attendance.
“She is not a new face in politics. It is just that she is fighting election for the first time. Did she ask any questions related to Mathura or spend any money for the city? People should ask these questions.”
The MP has been accused by BJP and other rival parties of not keeping in touch with his constituency, a claim he denies.
“It is not true that I did not visit my constituency. I have been to many villages but there are 17 lakh voters and 2,300 villages in Mathura and it is impossible to go everywhere. I took my job in Parliament seriously.
“I don’t think anti-incumbency is an issue with me. Hemaji is an outsider and an actress. People are just interested in hearing her out.”
The young MP says he has been dividing his time between his constituency and taking his party forward on the lines of his grandfather, Chaudhary Charan Singh’s vision.
“The political debate on rural issues is cold now. It is a challenge to fill that space that my grandfather created. I am mindful of that. I want to take farmers’ issues forward.
There is a new and emerging demographic of rural youths. They should have a bigger say” he said.
According to Chaudhary, the bigger challenge in front of him is to grow his party’s base in UP and other states.
“We have a niche. We are fighting on eight seats and it is a big region but in UP’s context it is a small region. In the coming time, I want to grow our base in UP and other states,” he said.
Asked whether the caste dynamics were limiting his vote bank, Chaudhary said, “We have been branded as seeking caste-base support. But our policies and issues are not caste based nor are our candidates.”
Chaudhary denies that the “so called Modi wave” is going to affect his party in this Lok Sabha elections.
“It is for the first time that the media machinery has been involved so intensively in an election. BJP has been carrying out a strong and sustained campaign. But as far as RLD is concerned, any wave is not going to affect us. ”
Talking about his plans for Mathura, Jayant said he wants the place to be a part of National Capital Region so that people have greater access to developmental infrastructure.
“Then there are UP centric issues of good governance, developing Mathura as a major tourist hub. I have already raised the demand in Parliament for a Braj tourist circuit.”