With folded hands, Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Jewar candidate, Thakur Dhirendra Singh, stationed himself at the entrance of Public Inter College stadium for his rally in Rabupura on Thursday. More than 50,000 people from all across Jewar thronged the stadium.
Many believe that it was not Rajnath Singh or Mahesh Sharma, but Thakur who attracted a large crowd.
“How many MLA candidates have you seen personally welcome each citizen who comes to his rally? He could have sat on the stage and waited for Rajnath Singh and Mahesh Sharma to arrive. But as they were late, Dhirendra ensured that his people were not left unattended,” Prem Singh of Nangla Shri Gopal village said.
Dhirendra is seen as one of the few ground level politicians in the district who can pull a crowd for any senior leader’s visit. A veteran of Congress for 30 years, he recently switched to BJP as he was denied a ticket by the former. In the last assembly polls, Singh contested the Jewar seat and lost to Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) Ved Ram Bhati. While the BSP candidate bagged 37.82% of the votes, the former had finished second with 32.5%.
However, his popularity has not dwindled despite him being labelled a turncoat by loyal followers of Congress and BSP. “Everyone knows that it was his compulsion to join hands with BJP after being shunted by the Congress. I have known Dhirendra for the last twenty years and seen his work. Last year, he installed five generators in my village for irrigation. He might have joined BJP but he will always be the Thakur sa’ab for us,” Karamat Ali of Tiltri village said.
A group of snake charmers also showed their support for Dhirendra. “He has been encouraging us to send our kids to schools and we all know how committed he has been towards improving the education facilities in the village,” Sanjay, a snake charmer from Rabupura, said.
Singh said that his priority for Jewar includes metro train connectivity from Greater Noida, setting up of industries and an airport.
“Culture minister Mahesh Sharma has already sought permission from the aviation and defence ministry for setting up an airport in Jewar. This will create hundreds of jobs for the youth, apart from benefitting the industrialists,” said Singh.
However, some said that the mammoth rally is just an eyewash and it will be a tight contest between BSP and BJP. “The people who attended his rally are the same who would easily turn out for the BSP as well. He has already lost an election against them and him joining BJP will definitely cut short his voters,” Bishen Singh of Tintri village said.