Four-cornered contest in Noida, Greater Noida
BJP's Mahesh Sharma, BSP's Surendra Nagar, Congress' Ramesh Chand Tomar and Narendra Bhati of the Samajwadi Party are in the fray in Gautam Buddh Nagar constituency which was reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates till the last Lok Sabha elections.india Updated: Apr 29, 2009 10:59 IST
It is a four-cornered contest in the prestigious Gautam Buddh Nagar Lok Sabha constituency, commonly known as Noida, and the chorus that all the parties are facing, irrespective of their platform, is the clamour for greater development - power, water, better roads and law and order.
Mahesh Sharma, 48, of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Surendra Nagar, 44, of Uttar Pradesh's ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Ramesh Chand Tomar, 59, of the Congress and Narendra Bhati, 50, of the Samajwadi Party are in the fray in the constituency which was reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates till the last Lok Sabha elections.
Apart from them over 20 independents are fighting the polls.
The constituency includes the boomtowns of Noida and Greater Noida, apart from Sikandrabad, Khurja, Dadri and Jewar. Noida and Greater Noida have large urban populations while the rural population is confined to villages in the assembly segments of Khurja, Sikandrabad, Dadri and Jewar.
"Since the seat has become general for the first time, all poll equations have changed. Now it's an open fight between all the candidates," Vikas, who is handling his father Ramesh Chand Tomar's poll campaign, told IANS.
Tomar has won Lok Sabha elections four times on the BJP ticket - thrice from Hapur - but he switched sides after the party refused him the ticket.
Yuvraj Singh, BJP's election agent in Noida and a close aide of party candidate Mahesh Sharma, owner of the Kailash Hospital, said: "At present we cannot say who will win the elections. If Bhati is leading in Sikandrabad and Nagar in Dadri, we are ahead in Jewar, Khurja, Noida and Greater Noida."
"Tomar is banking on Rajput votes, the largest among the other voter castes in the constituency," Singh said.
According to some rough estimates provided by the political parties, the Gautam Buddh Nagar constituency has around 1.53 million voters. Out of this around 1.2 million voters reside in 900 small and large villages. The remainder reside in apartment complexes and genteel neighbourhoods of Noida and Greater Noida.
Rajputs are said to occupy nearly 300 villages with a 'vote bank' of nearly 350,000 people. They are followed by 225,000 Muslims and 180,000 Gujjars. Around 80,000 voters are from the Jat community.
"We are banking on 80-90 per cent of Rajput and 70-80 per cent of Muslims votes. And we have support of other castes as well. If our calculations are right, then we will win with a large majority," Vikas Tomar of the Congress added.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati and former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, now in the Samajwadi Party, are also proving crucial factors in the elections.
Mayawati hails from Badalpur village of Gataum Buddh Nagar and Kalyan Singh has a large following among the Lodh community. He is telling them to cast their votes in the name of the Samajwadi Party candidate who is a Gujjar.
"Poll mood is in our favour. We are fighting elections on the development work carried out by 'behenji' (Mayawati) in the past two years," said Nagar of the BSP, who also comes from the Gujjar community. Nagar, a businessman, has hired a public relations agency to manage his campaign.
Since the population is distinctly divided into rural and urban, all the candidates are campaigning among rural voters on weekdays and addressing the urban populations of Noida and Greater Noida on weekends.
"For the rural population, we promise electricity, better roads and better compensation to farmers from whom land was acquired at cheap prices. And for people in the city we promise to fight law and order problems, unemployment and corruption," said Congress candidate Tomar.