For three decades they worked on the same mission – to strengthen their supreme leader Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party. This election, however, they stand on different sides — for mission Bundelkhand.
UP chief minister Mayawati’s trusted minister Naseemuddin Siddiqui and her former key aide, who joined the BJP, Babu Singh Kushwaha are battling for the 21 seats in the region, of which six — Manikpur, Karwai, Naraini, Banda, Baberu and Tindwari — go to polls on Sunday. The BSP won the first three seats (total 15) in 2007.
With Kushwaha on the offensive now, the BSP is trying hard to maintain its hold.
Kushwaha is leaving no stone unturned to dent the BSP — calling upon people in his public meetings to avenge his insult by defeating the party.
When the National Rural Health Mission (NRHM) scam came to light in 2011, the CM sacked Kushwaha who was the minister for family welfare. He then joined the BJP, but his membership had to be put in abeyance after an outcry over his induction.Siddiqui, a minister of 18 departments, has been camping in Banda for the last three days and attempting to woo Muslims. "My dignity is at stake. Support me by voting for the BSP candidate," he says.
On Wednesday, Kushwaha attacked the BSP in Attara. He visited villages dominated by his community and urged them to vote for the BJP.
“The Kushwaha-Siddiqui rivalry has turned the assembly election into a Bollywood masala movie,” says Suresh Chauhan, a trader.
In Sewadha, the native village of Siddiqui, a majority of the lanes and drains have been constructed with the MLA area development fund of Kushwaha. In Pakhrauli, the native village of Kushwaha, stone slabs with Siddiqui’s name can be seen in the lanes and houses allotted to dalits under the Ambedkar village scheme.
All the six constituencies are witnessing a multi-cornered fight this time.
By fielding Uma Bharti from the neighbouring Charkhari seat, the BJP hopes to make inroads into Bundelkhand. It’s banking on Kushwaha, Lodh and the upper caste (Brahmin/thakur) voters.
The Congress is relying on party general secretary Rahul Gandhi’s charisma and the Centre’s Bundelkhand package to maintain the hold it gained during the 2009 Lok Sabha elections.