In an apparent bid to counter the BJP in Ayodhya, the Samajwadi Party has put up for the mayor’s post a transgender activist who asserts that she will be backed by all sections of people in the town known as the birthplace of Lord Rama. Gulshan Bindu, who garnered 11.45 per cent of the total vote as an independent candidate in the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election, said she would campaign for the support of every community for the upcoming civic poll.
For the 2012 election, people had coined the slogan “Na Muslim, na Hindu, abki Gulshan Bindu” (Neither Muslim, nor Hindu, this time only Gulshan Bindu) to drum up support for her, Bindu said, adding that this would continue to be her battle cry. “I get the support of every section when I go out for campaigning. They want development and not the politics of caste and creed. They know only I can ensure that,” she told PTI.
Bindu, 47, said she would follow the doctrine “Na khayenge na khane denge” (Neither will I accept graft, nor let anyone do so) – a slogan made popular by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “I don’t have any family. People of Ayodhya are my family. I want to assure them that if they elect me as their mayor, I will show them what development means,” she said.
Bindu, who stressed that she did not believe in mud-slinging or levelling allegations against her opponents, had contested the 2012 polls from Ayodhya as an independent, securing 22,023 votes and finishing fourth. SP candidate Tej Narain Pandey alias Pawan Pandey had won the seat, defeating the BJP. “I want to thank SP national president Akhilesh Yadavji for giving me the ticket and considering me as a party candidate,” she said, adding that she was the runner-up in a Nagar Palika poll which the BJP had won by a mere 200 votes.
Samajwadi Party MLC Lilawati Khushwaha said Bindu was a social worker “liked and supported by everyone” in Ayodhya. “The BJP will get to know what people want in the polls here with the victory of Gulshan. It will be a landmark election here,” she said. Party president Akhilesh Yadav said the SP had given representation to all sections of society and added that women and traders were “worst affected by the economic policies of the BJP”.
Yadav said elections to urban local bodies had provided an opportunity for party workers to recover lost ground. The SP was decimated by the BJP in the March 2017 state Assembly elections. Its tally was reduced to 47, a steep fall from the 230 seats it had won in 2012. Civic polls in Uttar Pradesh will be held in three phases on November 22, 26 and 29, setting the stage for a virtual referendum on the Yogi Adityanath government in the state. Votes for the 16 nagar nigam, 198 nagar palika parishad and 438 nagar panchyats will be counted on December 1.
Over 3.32 crore people will be eligible to vote in the polls to be conducted in 36,269 polling booths in 11,389 polling stations. The polls, being fought for the first time on party lines, will be a litmus test for the ruling BJP which stormed to power in the Assembly elections with a massive mandate earlier this year.
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