Thakur Dhirendra Singh has always been well-known across the Rajput-dominated area of Jhewar. His father Hiri Singh served the Congress in a variety of posts in Bulandshahar. Besides,Singh owns more land than anyone else in Rabupara,his holdings including five brick kilns. And he is the man whom most people in Rabupura and adjoining villages approach for help.
In May 2011,he became known outside his domain too. It was Dhirendra Singh who called Rahul Gandhi to the violence-stricken villages of Bhatta and Parsaul,and he who arranged for the latter to get around policemen and sneak into the villages at 4 in the morning,riding pillion on a motorcycle driven by Singhs younger brother KaranVeer.
Now,Singh is contesting from the the newly constituted constituency of Jhewar. It is his first election but he confidently says he needs no initiation.
My family has been with the Congress for generations. Even my grandfather,Thakur Harnarayan Singh Sahab,was associated with the Congress and took part in the freedom movement, he says.
I am standing for the first time but have been familiar with politics ever since I was born, he adds. People have always come to my house with their problems. When my father was alive I listened to him,and now I try and help them.
One of his main election planks is land acquisition,with the handling of the Bhatta-Parsaul situation giving him the ammunition to attack the BSP government with. First,the land acquisition policy is in itself skewed. Land is taken from farmers at low rates and then given to builders when it was meant for things like roads and industries, he says.
What made it worse in Bhatta Parsaul was the attitude of the police who went in with the intention of revenge against farmers.
It was then that he decided to call Rahul,he says. He wanted to come and speak,so I arranged for motorcycles to pick him up from the Haryana border, Singh says. It was only because of him that calm returned. Everyone in the surrounding villages now wants to vote for the Congress. If I am elected,my focuses will be not only Bhatta Parsaul but the entire process of land acquisition.
Singh,48 and a graduate from St Johns College,has been vice president of the Congress committee in Bulandshahar. Yet,despite his political background,he feels life has now changed.
Earlier,I used to do social work whenever people came to me with a need, he says,but now,I go from house to house in the 176 villages in Jhewar everyday. Though this constituency has the F1 track,the site of the proposed airport and the Yamuna Expressway,there are no basic essentials.