In Farrukhabad, surrounded by Samajwadi Party strongholds including Mainpuri, Kannauj and Badaun, the party finds rebel Sachin Singh Yadav playing the spoiler for its candidate Rameshwar Singh Yadav, the Aliganj MLA, who is challenging Congress candidate Salman Khurshid and the BJP’s Mukesh Rajput.
Sachin’s father Narendra Singh Yadav, SP MLA from Amritpur, was sacked as a minister from the Akhilesh Yadav government after Sachin entered the poll fray as an independent and refused to withdraw even after Mulayam Singh Yadav intervened. Narendra is still in the SP but is campaigning for his son.
Mainpuri is a stronghold of Mulayam Singh Yadav, while his daughter-in-law Dimple is Kannauj MP, and his nephew Dharmendra Yadav is the Badaun MP. Mulayam has asked people to vote for Rameshwar and not ‘cheats’.
A Lucknow University graduate, 30-year-old Sachin had until Saturday been campaigning in an SUV with private security personnel and with his father. On Sunday, he campaigned in a private helicopter.
Polling is on April 24.
Yadavs, dominant in Farrukahbad, appear divided between Sachin and Rameshwar. Lodhs are drifting to the BJP’s Mukesh Rajput, picked by Kalyan Singh, who has the support of a section of Brahmins. Another section of Brahmins is likely to support the BSP’s Jaiveer Singh.
“Salman (Khurshid) is the only Muslim among nominees of leading parties. A major section of Muslims will vote him though the work he took up was negligible,” said Aftab Sherkhan, a grocery shop owner.
Naseer Khan, manager of an embroidery workshop in Muslim-dominated Manihari, said the BJP will get votes because of the Modi wave but Muslims will back Khurshid. “Even Salman’s Pitaura village in Kayaamganj lacks development but Muslims will still vote for him,” said Naseer.
Two years back, officials in 10 districts of UP raised questions on genuineness of reports on checks on works carried out by Dr Zakir Hussain Memorial Trust run by Khurshid and his wife Louise Khurshid, for welfare of disabled in 2009-2010. In their reports to the Handicapped Welfare Department, district officials alleged the signatures were fake. It was not an election issue even for the Aam Aadmi Party though AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal had raised it in 2012 to target Khurshid.
“I am contesting on the issue of backwardness,” said Tariq Parvez, AAP candidate. K K Dixit of Rashrtiya Viklang Party said the alleged scandal was not an issue in the current elections.
Sachin said most of the candidates are outsiders who do not understand local problems. He said there are 6 lakh youths who need employment. Sachin is promising to facilitate traditional embroidery and silk printing works of Farrukhabad to help create employment for youths.
“Another issue is the SP candidate’s criminal background,” Sachin said Sunday morning.
Sachin’s father is seven-time MLA, winning twice on Congress ticket and five times as SP candidate. “My father was earlier against my contesting. I decided to contest after SP did not give me ticket,” said Sachin.
Sachin got a survey conducted to identify issues of youths. His ‘Team Sachin’ is helping in the campaign.
“Sachin’s grandfather late Rajendra Singh had been MLA on Congress ticket. Image of his family is good. Sachin may not win but will damage SP,” said Beni Prasad Agarwal in Ghoda Nakkhas area.
Beni said Rajput had a good chance with Lodhs loyal to Kalyan Singh on his side, besides the Modi factor.