In Kanpur,home ground of Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal,one of the Congresss many hurdles is infighting as it seeks to improve on the two seats it won (out of seven then) in this BJP stronghold in 2007.
Another challenge is the citys problems,mainly its dying industries. The party is hoping to have earned some goodwill with the implementation of JNNURM projects,though that too has been late.
Being a Union minister makes Jaiswal the target of peoples anger. He does enjoy a clean image but he is also seen as aloof from the common man,moving with only the elite. Jaiswal heads the campaign committee for the UP elections.
The infighting is largely between Jaiswal and Govind Nagar MLA Ajai Kapoor,now contesting from Kidwai Nagar,a new seat. During the Prime Ministers rally last week,Jaiswal praised the former for the promises he had made in 2009 for Kanpurs revival Kapoor pointed out that many of those promises were yet to be fulfilled. Jaiswal is said to be trying to cut Kapoor to size. And Rahul Gandhi took his roadshow to two seats in the city but skipped Kidwai Nagar,apparently because of Kapoors rift with Jaiswal.
Kapoor,who is alleged to have worked against Jaiswals interests in 2009,is incidentally related to BJP leader Satish Mahana,who was contesting against Jaiswal.
Many feel Jaiswal hasnt been proactive enough about reviving industries. He has been chosen MP twice on the same promise,reviving the factories… The workers are left gasping for breath, says Rama Shankar Pandey,who works at Lal Imli.
The Central undertaking,formerly British India Corporation,was once the largest supplier of woollens to defence personnel. Today it stares at possible closure. Pandey accuses Jaiswal of not wanting to revive these factories. He is only interested in selling the land cheap. Indeed,Jaiswal and other leaders have said the party wants to revive only a few units; the land of the rest should be sold but the state government has not allowed it.
Elgin Mills,a textile production unit,is closed,as are a fertiliser company,scooter company LML and various other units.
The Congress blames the state government for the slow progress of JNNURM too. The work started only last year (the JNNURM period ends in 2012). It will take time, says Vijay Singh,supervisor at one site.
The Congress is hoping to ahve earned some goodwill through some new flyovers,which the Prime Minister highlighted.
We know you will say the Congress has been making promises about reviving industries for long. But with a Congress government at the Centre and in the state,it will be a reality this time, candidate Abdul Mannan Ansari said at the PMs function.
Ansari is on tough ground. His Kanpur Cantonment is now a Muslim-dominated seat and most parties have fielded Muslims.
Part of it is Jajmau,the hub of tanneries. More than 100 tanneries have shut on court orders amid a campaign against river pollution. Hamid Hasan of Mircozi International Tannery says the government takes money for effluent treatment plants; one has been set up but doesnt work. Hasan says Mahana,the sitting MLA,never bothered about Jajmau because his votes didnt come from here.
Jaiswal is never seen here, he says,but where do Muslims go (except to the Congress)? This time,Hasnain Rumi (SP) could be a better choice. He is at least visible.
Adil,also in the tannery business,would not mind voting for the BJP. In 1991,the BJP did win all seats in the city.