The Congress campaign for Uttar Pradesh began from this village five months ago. Vimla Devi, a housewife, recalls that September morning when Rahul Gandhi visited her home. His helicopter landed in the nearby field. Like others, Vimla Devi signed the Congress’s kisan mang patra promising a debt waiver and halving of power bills. Five months on, she is not sure whether she will vote for the Congress. Her neighbours Pradyuman Singh and Bade Lal, on the other hand, aren’t as uncertain. The former has made up his mind to vote for “Narendra Modi” while the latter prefers “panja” although he is not happy with the Congress’s alliance with SP.
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Rahul had visited houses of all three in this village, part of the Congress-held constituency of Rudrapur, on September 6 before starting his yatra from Deoria to Delhi. The village was selected for the launch of the signature drive because of its Congress-linked history.
All of them having signed the kisan mang patra, some such as Ramba and Indravati believe their power bills will be halved if “Rahul Gandhi wins”. Many others in the village, which they say has traditionally voted for Congress, believe Narendra Modi is doing some good work although they cannot specify what they like. Demonetisation, they say, did not affect them much.
With days left for polling, the village seems to be torn between BJP and Congress, indicating the intensity of the contest in eastern UP. The BSP too is in the fray.
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Deoria district has seven seats, of which five are held by SP and one each are with BJP and Congress. Rudrapur is the only one where Congress is contesting; it has renominated MLA Akhilesh Pratap Singh. BJP has renominated Jai
Prakash Nishad, who lost the last three elections he contested. Singh says he is sure of winning. “I am not sure whom I will vote for,” Vimla Devi says. “My daughter is saying I should vote for BJP. I will decide when I go for voting.” Most elders keep their choice close to their chest while youngsters are more forthcoming.
Some say the Congress MLA has done good work while others want Modi to be “given a chance”. The name of the BJP candidate has not yet registered with most. All they know is Modi and the “phool” symbol. “We have kept the receipt of the mang patra party we had signed. Let’s see whether we will get something,” says Indravati.
The Nishad community is in a majority in Rudrapur. With BJP and BSP candidates fielding candidates from that community, Congress believes there will a split in their votes. BJP, however, says Nishads are with them. The constituency has a significant number of Yadavs and Muslims, the traditional SP votebank, which Congress hopes will transfer to it.