Among the seven Assembly seats going to bypolls next week, Malhani in Jaunpur district is the only one which was not held by the ruling BJP. The seat, dominated by Yadavs, was won by Samajwadi Party’s Parasnath Yadav in 2017 Assembly elections.
With the seat falling vacant after the SP leader’s death, the party has this time fielded his 35-year-old son Lucky Yadav in a bid to retain the seat.
Except the Samajwadi Party, the three main parties – the ruling BJP, the BSP and Congress – have fielded upper castes candidates from Malhani.
While the BJP has fielded Manoj Kumar Singh, a Thakur candidate, the BSP and the Congress have nominated Brahmin candidates – Jai Prakash Dubey and Rakesh Mishra, respectively.
The BJP, which came fourth is the last Assembly bypoll, is hoping to make an entry in the seat by promising development and consolidating the upper castes. However, a local gangster-turned-politician is keen to queer the BJP’s pitch. Dhananjay Singh, who had contested as a NISHAD party candidate in the 2017 Assembly elections and came second, losing to SP’s Parasnath Yadav by nearly 21,000 votes, is contesting the bypoll as an Independent candidate.
Known as “Bahubali”, Dhananjay Singh is a two-time MLA and former MP from Jaunpur. Sources said that he has been booked for murder and under Gangster Act. But he is actively campaigning in this by-election as “Vikas Purush”. His supporters carry “LPG cylinder” with them — his election symbol — hoping this time their leader would make it to the Assembly.
“I do not make just promises. I set priority, and people know that Dhananjay Singh does not lie, he does what he says. Even when not in power, I have worked for this constituency,” Singh says in a video message released on social media.
Singh, who is out on bail in a kidnapping cases, promises that he would not just depend on the MLA Development Funds for initiating development works in the constituency but would bring in money from the Corporate Social Responsibility funds as well.
But his opponents read it differently.
“He had contested as a NISHAD Party candidate in 2017 Assembly polls. With the constituency having significant Nishad votes, he was able to secure a good number of votes – 48,141. That might not happen this time. A, he is contesting as an Independent candidate and B there are not enough Thakur votes in this seat,” says BSP candidate Jai Prakash Dubey.
When asked about Congress fielding a Brahmin candidate from the seat, Dubey discounts it saying that he is “not contesting as a Brahmin candidate” but as a candidate for all the sections. “The Congress is not even in contention on this seat (Malhani). Brahmins might not be as much in numbers as Yadavs here, but they are influential voters. Moreover, we are not asking for votes on the basis of castes as we are promising better security and better development,” Dubey says.
While SP’s Lucky Yadav is claiming to carry forward the legacy of his father, many say that it would not be a cakewalk for him as not much development has taken place despite his father being a two-term MLA from the constituency.
Meanwhile, both the Congress and Samajwadi Party are focusing on law and order situation under the BJP government.
The Congress, which had given the seat to the then ally, the Samajwadi Party, during the 2017 seat-sharing talks due to lack of its base in the region, is now attacking both the SP and the BJP, accusing both the parties of not developing the area since 2012.
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