Once the unmatched political hero of eastern Uttar Pradesh, former Prime Minister Chandrashekhar now finds his political legacy dwindling.
Consider this. His Samajwadi Janata Party (SJP) has just a token representation in the eight assembly segments of Ballia. And his nephew Pravin Kumar Singh is contesting from Basdi as an alliance candidate of the Lok Janshakti Party and Jan Morcha.
But what daunts Chandrashekhar’s legacy is the absence of an heir who can match his ‘son of the soil’ image and political acumen. With no takers, his falling health has allowed the Samajwadi Party and BJP to make inroads into his support base. “Many have either joined the SP or BJP,” says Khyal Singh, a former supporter in his native village Ibrahim Patti. Even nephew and once state president of SJP, Ravi Singh, is an MLC from the Samajwadi Party.
Family members are not averse to his followers joining other parties. “Mulayamji has come to your house twice and done a lot for your village” says JP Singh, another nephew.
Chandrashekhar’s 50-year political career turned Ibrahim Patti, a poor hamlet, into a semi-urban locality. The village has regular water and power supply, unheard of in this part of the state; a drainage system; two-lane road and a high school. When Chandrashekhar was the prime minister, the government also developed two make-shift helipads.
But Chandrashekhar has critics too, like Govind Singh Rai of Niharpur village who accuses him of keeping his distance from Rajbars (landless people) and Dalits. “We voted for him for years but got nothing in return,” laments Ramsaran Singh of Kathoti village.