Uttarakhand minister’s widow, brother fight for his political legacy | assembly-elections$uttarakhand-2017 | Hindustan Times
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Uttarakhand minister’s widow, brother fight for his political legacy

Sitting Congress legislator from Bhagwanpur in Haridwar, Mamta Rakesh, is pitted against her brother-in-law, the BJP’s Subodh Rakesh. They both have staked claim to the political legacy of former state transport minister Surendra Rakesh

assembly elections Updated: Feb 10, 2017 19:42 IST
Deep Joshi
A view of Bhagwanpur constituency in Haridwar district.
A view of Bhagwanpur constituency in Haridwar district.(Deep Joshi/HT Photo)

BHAGWANPUR (HARIDWAR): An interesting fight is on the cards in this reserve assembly constituency where sitting Congress legislator Mamta Rakesh is pitted against her brother-in-law, the BJP’s Subodh Rakesh.

The devar and bhabhi are locked in a battle to stake claim to the political legacy of her late husband and former state transport minister Surendra Rakesh — a Dalit leader from neighbouring Haridwar.

Mamta won the Bhagwanpur bypoll on Congress ticket in April last year when the seat fell vacant after Surendra, a suspended Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) MLA died of cancer.

Surendra was one of the three BSP MLAs who supported the Congress after it formed government in 2012 with a wafer thin majority.

Congress’s Mamta Rakesh had won the Bhagwanpur bypolls riding on sympathy wave. (HT Photo)

Whether Mamata proves to be a worthy successor of her husband’s legacy would depend on whether she wins against Surendra’s brother. Subodh who is contesting on the BJP ticket, had started overseeing the constituency after Surendra became inactive owing to illness. Subodh also seems to have a sway over a sizeable chunk of Dalit votes.

Mamta, meanwhile, has Muslim voters in her favour. Muslims constitute nearly 50 per cent (46,000) of the total 1.16 lakh electorate here.

“The foremost reason why we are supporting her is that we don’t want to let the BJP take root here. That party is divisive and the biggest danger to the society,” says Mohammad Imran, 43, a member of Chauli Sahabuddin village panchayat.

Furqan Ahmad, 70, who runs a tea shop, praises the late Surendra “for a number of development works” he undertook in the constituency as a minister. “She (Mamta) is carrying forward the (development) process initiated by her husband,” he says detailing the roads, schools, colleges and a bus station that Mamta “got approved” for Bhagwanpur.

BJP candidate Subodh Rakesh’s supporters say he will get all the Dalit votes. (HT Photo)

Mohmmad Intizar, 36, a vegetable seller also praises chief minister Harish Rawat for sanctioning bridges. “He (Rawat) also frequently visits this constituency unlike that party’s (BJP) former chief ministers who never showed their faces,” he adds.

A section of the Hindu voters are also ready to give benefit of doubt to Mamta. Sixty-one-year-old Ram Kumar Dhiman , a resident of Hindu-dominant Chaudiala village counts a number of civic problems dogging it but considers Mamta as a better area representative than Subodh. “She is approachable. We can share our problems with her,” he says.

Ghamandi Singh, 67, a farmer at Balsawa Gaaj village says Subodh did a lot for the constituency when Surendra was ailing. His brother Anup adds, “Mamta stands no chance this time as all the (32,000) Dalit voters here stand solidly behind Subodh.”