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As BJP looks to break ‘jinx’, Congress makes presence felt with ‘youngest candidate’

🔴 Hitting out at the Opposition, he said he had visited Noida several times during his tenure, unlike his predecessors who avoided the district because they were worried more about “their life and position” than the lives of people of Noida.

Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections 2022, Yogi Adityanath, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav, Pankaj, Indian Express, India news, current affairs, Indian Express News Service, Express News Service, Express News, Indian Express India NewsPankaj campaigns in Noida. (Gajendra Yadav)

During his recent visit to Gautam Buddh Nagar as part of the BJP’s election campaign, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath said the party would beat the “Noida jinx” and come back to power.

Hitting out at the Opposition, he said he had visited Noida several times during his tenure, unlike his predecessors who avoided the district because they were worried more about “their life and position” than the lives of people of Noida.

He was referring to a superstition in political circles that had kept past CMs Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav from visiting the seat for fear of losing power.

Hailed as a VIP seat and a BJP bastion since 2012, Noida is one of the three Assembly constituencies, besides Dadri and Jewar, that make up the Gautam Buddh Nagar Lok Sabha seat.

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The BJP’s Pankaj Singh, son of Defence Minister Rajnath Singh and vice-president of the party’s state unit, is the sitting MLA from Noida, having won the previous election with a margin of more than 1 lakh votes against the SP’s Sunil Chaudhary. Chaudhary is the SP candidate this election too. Though Pankaj sailed through in 2017, this time, there is a semblance of a fight.

The Congress, which has fielded Pankhuri Pathak, has entered the fray through some aggressive local campaigning. At 29, Pathak is one of the youngest candidates in the fray.

A Delhi resident, Pankhuri got into student politics while in Delhi University, joining the Samajwadi Chatra Sabha, the Samajwadi Party’s youth wing. She went on to become the state spokesperson for the SP, but quit three years ago following differences with the party, and joined the Congress.

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Her husband, Anil Yadav, a Noida SP leader, also left the party, protesting against allegedly misogynistic comments against Pankhuri. He too, joined the Congress.

With nearly 70% urban and 30% rural votes, one of the most prominent election issues here is related to homebuyers, ranging from delayed possession of flats to problems faced by housing societies. In fact, the president of the Noida Extension Flat Owners’ Main Association (NEFOMA), Annu Khan, filed his candidature from Dadri as an Independent candidate.

A recent CAG report — which highlighted several lapses on the part of the Noida Authority, which allegedly aided the housing crisis and led to defaulting by builders, is a talking point among many Noida residents.

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“I have been part of several AOA and RWA protests. I have taken up their causes at several levels. Whether it’s a problem of law and order or the issue of security guards in the buildings, I closely monitor the issues. The fact is that in this election, people will vote for a leader from among their own,” Pathak said during a door-to-door campaign in Harola on Monday.

Residents acknowledge that while the BJP remains a dominating presence here, the visibility of the Congress has gone up when compared to previous elections. “Earlier, it was a given that the BJP would win from the area, but now it seems that there is a contender,” said Harinder Bhati, a resident of the Nayabans area, adding, “The vote for the ruling party is primarily for Yogi Adityanath. The local representative is merely a face and honestly, has not visited a lot. The BJP could have done more in terms of local development.”

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First published on: 27-01-2022 at 03:55:20 am
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