BJP’s leader and a member of Parliament Varun Gandhi, who is among the saffron party’s 40 star campaigners for the third and fourth phases of polling in Uttar Pradesh, is conspicuous by his absence in not only his own constituency Sultanpur but in the state as well, workers have alleged.
The Bharatiya Janata Party workers wonder whether Gandhi himself has decided to keep away from his parliamentary constituency or has been kept away by the party leadership deliberately.
Omprakash Pandey Bajrangi, his representative in the district, is also desperately waiting for the parliamentarian to come and spur his prospects in the ongoing assembly elections. Bajrangi is contesting as the BJP candidate from Isauli assembly constituency.
“Workers are agitated (over Gandhi’s absence). They come and pour out their anger at us. We have to listen to them,” Satyaprakash Pandey, a BJP leader and Bajrangi’s brother, said.
However, Bajrangi sought to play down the issue while campaigning in his constituency.
“He is a national leader. It’s the party which decides his programmes. He cannot decide it on his own. His presence will definitely give a boost to the morale of the party workers,” Bajrangi told Hindustan Times.
Five of the assembly constituencies in Sultanpur go to polls on February 27 in the fifth of the seven-phased elections.
Gandhi, a two-time young MP, has been out of favour with the party leadership, but his influence in seats going to poll in the third and fourth phases of polling in the state forced the party to bring him back for campaigning.
When contacted Gandhi said, “Let’s see, there is a lot of time still left and I think these things will be worked out in the next couple of days.”
BJP workers say the MP is yet to meet the aspirations of the district as far as its development is concerned.
Vallipur village, just on the outskirts of the city, that has been adopted by the member of Parliament stands a testimony to the allegations. Dirt, filth and garbage can be seen strewn around the village with many thatched houses.
Villagers said the absence of a proper drainage system leads to water logging and certain low-lying areas turn into ponds, which poses a threat to the health of people as it becomes a breeding ground for mosquitoes. During rains, one of the segments of the village is cut off from others as there is no pucca road.
The villagers said they collected Rs 5,000 and got the drains cleaned. However, sanitation workers from the civic body have not been coming to the locality since the past two months. When the villagers complained, authorities said the workers would be able to come to the village only after the elections.
Unemployment is another major problem in the village and a training centre run under Jan Shikshan Sansthan has not been functioning for the past two months. There is no other employment scheme for the villagers.
The trainer at the centre, Sunita Vishwakarma, said she has not received her remuneration of Rs 2000 per month for about a year now from the NGO which runs the centre.
Villagers also complained that the toilets built for them were of substandard quality. They said they cannot use them as the floors of many of the toilets have caved in.
“This is the quality. We cannot use it and are forced to go outside to respond to the call of nature,” Vanshraj Nishad, a rickshaw puller, said while pointing at the set of toilets built outside his thatched house.
Dropout of children from schools is another issue, villagers said.
Village pradhan Usha Devi defended Gandhi, saying it was because of his efforts that 80 houses could be built and 30 more are yet to be built. A water tank too would be constructed soon, she added.
A villager said they came to know that Vallipur was adopted as adarsh or model village for one only a year and added it could be the reason that the MP has not been able to help them further.