Indian Express

The wait: Rita has sleep to catch up on

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Rita Bahuguna at her Lucknow home. ( Express photo by Vishal Srivastav ) Rita Bahuguna at her Lucknow home. ( Express photo by Vishal Srivastav )

The Campaign against her formidable rival over, she finds her usual six hours of sleep eluding her. She managed a long drive with her husband for a few hours on May 11 but is struggling to make it to a movie she promised herself and her family (her husband P C Joshi, who retired as General Manager of a public sector undertaking, son and daughter-in-law) after polling.

Sleep remains one of the biggest challenges for Rita Bahuguna Joshi, the Lucknow candidate of the Congress. She had contested against BJP national president Rajnath Singh in the Uttar Pradesh capital. She is MLA from Lucknow Cantonment.

TV crews wait for a “byte” and some people want her to be part of delegation to the DGP office to complain against a robbery. She has to visit a mausoleum to mark Hazarat Ali’s birth anniversary and her staff has a list of four weddings and a birthday party for her to attend.

“This has been one of my best contested elections, whatever the results be. For six weeks, I could hardly get 2-3 hours of sleep. Sometimes, I feel I would have emerged stronger if I had at least three more weeks,” she says.

“I have been here for just seven years, from 2007 when I was made UPCC president. This election, I realised I have become a Lucknowite and locals reciprocated it through love and respect. No result can change that.”

During her campaign against Rajnath Singh, she had spared time to campaign for her nephew Saket Bahuguna who was the Congress candidate in Tehri, Uttarakhand.

“I am yet to return to my six-hour sleep schedule,” she says and adds, “But you just can’t say no to people if you are present in your own constituency. I have attended marriages till as late as 3 am hoping to meet at least the family of the bride and groom.”

TV channels wait for her views. She obliges many and ignores several.

“You know what? This election has seen extremely low levels of debate, personal attacks. I feel sad and then satisfied that at least my family has been untouched,” she says.

She suddenly remembers that it is 3 pm and neither she nor her husband, who managed all the administrative work for her, has had lunch.

“Arre Joshi ji ko bula lo… Abhi tak lunch nahi kiya. Phir DGP office ke liye nikalna hai,” she tells her staff and says, “After last day of campaigning in Varanasi on May 10, both of us decided to go on a long drive on May 11 and that was the only time we discussed our mind about this election with each other.”

A jewellery shop in Alambagh had been looted at gunpoint a day back and she gets to know traders are sitting on dharna in the constituency and want her to continued…

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