Abutting Amethi and close to the other Gandhi family bastion, Rae Bareli, Sultanpur is shaping up as an interesting poll battle.
Union minister Maneka Gandhi, mother of sitting BJP MP Sultanpur Varun Gandhi, is the BJP candidate. Former MLA Chandrabhadra Singh, alias Sonu Singh, known as a baahubali (strongman), who is contesting on a BSP ticket as a candidate of the SP-BSP-RLD alliance, is expected to be her main opponent, even as Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra held a roadshow on Thursday to drum up support for her party’s candidate, Sanjay Sinh, popularly known as “Raja of Amethi” who won the seat in 2009.
But the entry of Kamla Yadav, given a ticket by former SP leader Shivpal Yadav’s Pragatisheel Samajwadi Party (PSP), has made the contest skewed for Singh.
Singh, along with his brother, was once accused in the murder of revenue inspector Ram Kumar Yadav, Kamla Yadav’s husband. That was in 2010, when Mayawati was the CM and Singh was the BSP MLA from Isauli.
While the alliance hopes Singh will give a direct fight to Maneka, consolidating votes of both upper castes, especially Thakurs, and OBC, Dalit and Mulsim communities, Kamla’s entry has disturbed the equations. Kamla is telling the people, “Jo hamare samaj ka netritva karte hain unhone beeson crore mein Sultanpur ka ticket gunda-mafia ko de diya…. Kya gunda-mafia Sultanpur se saansad bagena? (Leaders of our community sold the ticket to a gunda-mafia for Rs 20 crore. Will a gunda become the MP from Sultanpur?)”
The “community leaders” was a reference to the SP leadership.
While she also takes on Varun Gandhi – “if the son had worked hard he would not have left the seat for his mother,” she said at one meeting – her main target is BSP’s Singh. Campaigning for her, Shivpal’s son Aditya Yadav, general secretary of PSP, also targetted the alliance: “A gathbandhan (alliance) is firmed up on the basis of ideology and issues. Here, the alliance is of greed for government.”
At a local tea shop, Jai Singhpur resident Anil Kumar Mishra, who works in the Electricity Department, said, “The fight here is between BJP and the alliance. While Thakurs will largely vote for Sonu Singh, a section of OBCs, mainly Yadavs, are veering towards Kamla Yadav out of sympathy. She may not get a large chunk of votes but will take a share off Sonu’s. So he is banking largely on Muslim, Dalit and Thakur votes.”
Mishra also said many people in the village have received Rs 2,000 as part of the Centre’s farmers’ scheme, and are “ready to vote for PM Narendra Modi to continue it”.