Oppn builds castles in the air | india | Hindustan Times
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Oppn builds castles in the air

PERHAPS BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had not felt the public pulse before she declared during her election tour of the constituency that history would repeat itself in Rae Bareli. Till date, voters of the VVIP constituency have not forgiven themselves for the 1977 mistake when Indira Gandhi lost the election.

india Updated: May 05, 2006 01:19 IST

PERHAPS BJP leader Sushma Swaraj had not felt the public pulse before she declared during her election tour of the constituency that history would repeat itself in Rae Bareli.

Till date, voters of the VVIP constituency have not forgiven themselves for the 1977 mistake when Indira Gandhi lost the election.

Apparently, the Rae Bareli election records misled Sushma Swaraj, as her party had twice won the seat in 1996 and 1998.

But, in her enthusiasm she missed the vital fact that in both the elections, the losers were not from the Gandhi family.

Both in 1996 and 1998, the Congress had fielded little-known Vikram Kaul and Deepa Kaul.

Otherwise also BJP nominee Vinay Katiyar, despite his image of a firebrand leader, is no match for the late Raj Narain, either in stature, or histrionics. Nor is there an anti- Congress wave sweeping the country today, as in the post- Emergency period of 1977 when Indira Gandhi had lost the seat to the socialist leader Raj Narain. 

May be Sushma was resorting to another political gimmick, reminding people of her Bellary vow of getting her head shaved if she lost the election to Sonia Gandhi.

As for the BJP’s rank and file here, the contest is primarily with the Uma Bharti-supported Apna Dal candidate. Over the years, Apna Dal has carved out a niche for itself among Kurmis.

Sushma is not the only one whose political calculations are going awry in Rae Bareli. Oblivious of the ground realities, Mulayam Singh Yadav’s Samajwadi Party is also building castles in the air, banking on its four strengths — the party’s paraphernalia and extensive campaigning, backwardness of the area, the advantage of being in power in the State and its victory in three assembly segments of the Lok Sabha constituency in the 2002 assembly elections.

Mulayam’s focus on the backwardness of the area that has remained the pocket borough of the Gandhis may rebound on him.

Intelligent voters of this constituency who had preferred regional forces to the Congress in the 2002 assembly election blame Mulayam more for the backwardness of the area than the Gandhis.

Voters of the constituency are emotionally attached to the Gandhis, so much so that Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s single appeal had turned the tables on the BJP in the 1999 election. Captain Satish Sharma won the seat at that time. The Gandhis had held the seat since 1952 and won all 15 elections, barring three in 1977, 1996 and 1998.

In fact, the Gandhis’ emotional bond with the electorate is so deep that it cuts through all issues of development, caste or creed.

When Sonia had relinquished the Amethi seat and chosen Indira’s Rae Bareli, she, too, had touched that emotional chord with her statement, “I am here to continue that atoot rishta with you.”

Many may not know that people of this constituency kept voting for ‘Indira’s hand’ several years after her death. For them, the Congress was Indira.

The same sentiments hold good for Sonia and her two children today. The family maintains a personal rapport with the people here, a connection that the Opposition cannot break with a few fiery speeches, or accusations. 

However, Opposition, in their hope of a miracle, is unable to understand the traditional bond that exists between the Gandhis and Rae Bareli.

Yes, the Opposition is fighting a grim battle to save their deposits in Rae Bareli, where polling will be held on May 8 next.

The issue in discussion today is not the victory margin with which Sonia Gandhi will go back to Lok Sabha from here, but who amongst the Opposition will save their deposits.