Gurgaon city has been the poster boy of India’s booming liberalised economy. Now, the Gurgaon constituency — larger than Delhi with vast swathes of rural land — is set to witness one of the most high-profile and electrifying contests this Lok Sabha elections.
It has already become the latest lab for the new politics of Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which has fielded its star candidate Yogendra Yadav. While AAP calls for merit-based politics rising above caste, the decision to field Yadav, an Ahir, keeps into account the influence the caste factor has in this belt. The three-time MP from here, Rao Inderjit Singh, a Congressman who recently quit to join BJP, is also an Ahir.
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Yadav, however, rejected being tagged with his caste. “It would be an insult as much to Rao Inderjit as to myself if we are described as Yadav politicians. I have never believed in caste politics and I hope that my work in Mewat and among the Dalits over the past ten years will put such allegations to rest,” said Yadav. TheCongress may have a trick up its sleeve too. It is apparently trying to persuade actor and wife of Mansoor Ali Khan Pataudi, Sharmila Tagore, to fight from here, keeping in mind the large section of Muslims. The name of Sara Pilot, wife of Gujjar leader Sachin Pilot and daughter of former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah, is also being discussed.
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What has turned the contest here even more complex is the fact that Mamata Banerjee’s All India Trinamool Congress, now backed by activist Anna Hazare, may field its candidate, much to the worry of AAP.
The millennium city of Gurgaon is a tiny part of this pre-dominantly rural constituency. Majority of the voters here are from the backward Mewat and Rewari while the urban population accounts for 20% population only.
Another factor that will spice up the contest this time is the division of votebanks. The Meos (Muslims) who account for 20 per cent of the total 17.8 lakh electorate may not support Rao Inderjit this time, as he has joined the BJP. Also, AAP’s Yadav will test the allegiance of Ahirs to Rao. The caste equation may have blunted the advantage of having Rao — a Congress veteran of 35 years — in its ranks. The party may bank on the seemingly disenchantment of the voters, especially the youth, with the slow pace of development in the Gurgaon city.
“Gurgaon might be known as the millennium city but it lacks basic facilities such as transport and roads. What makes it worse is the indifferent attitude of the government officers and the police,” said Sheena Marwah, a management executive.
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Shailendra Pandey, a resident of Sector 9 and an industrialist, said: “The government has completely failed to ensure growth of industry in Gurgaon. The city could have been a leader in industries but it did not receive enough support from the government.”
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The BJP believes that ‘Modi magic’ and its development plank will help it sail through. “The nation wants Narendra Modi. There is a Modi wave and candidates have become insignificant. The AAP will not be able to repeat its performance in Delhi here. This is not Delhi. No one in the villages here has heard their name,” said Haryana BJP chief Ramvilas Sharma.
Challenger and ticket hopefuls
Rao Inderjit Singh, BJP
Rao Inderjit Singh (64), scion of the Rao dynasty, is a four-time MLA and three-time MP from Gurgaon. Rao is an LLB from DU. In 2009 Lok Sabha polls, he won the Gurgaon seat by a margin of 85,000 votes. He has won medals in the Commonwealth Shooting Championship and SAF Games.
Yogendra Yadav, AAP
AAP has declared Yogender Yadav (51) as its candidate. He is well-known psephologist and political scientist and hails from Saharanvas in Rewari. Yadav comes from Ahir community and holds an M.Phil degree. He completed his school and college education from Rajasthan before coming to Delhi.
Sharmila Tagore, Cong
Actor Sharmila Tagore is the wife of late Mansoor Ali Khan, Nawab of Pataudi. Even after the demise of her husband in 2011, their son Saif Ali Khan and daughters keep visiting Pataudi. She has the advantage of being identified as a local and as a person who can appeal to both rural and urban voters.
Sara Pilot, Cong
The name of Sara Pilot, wife of Sachin Pilot, is also doing the rounds as the probable Congress candidate from Gurgaon. Sara is the daughter of former J&K chief minister Farooq Abdullah. Being a Gujjar leader, Sachin Pilot may help her garner support of the rural masses in the Gurgaon parliamentary segment.
Chiranjeev Rao, Cong
Son-in-law of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, 27-year-old Chiranjeev Rao hails from Saharanvas in Rewari — the same place as AAP’s Yogendra Yadav. His father, Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, is Haryana’s power minister and holds a record of winning Rewari assembly constituency six times in a row.
Mohd Ilyas, INLD
Mohammed Ilyas, 59, is a social worker and politician by profession. He is a graduate from Jamia Millia Islamia, Delhi. He did his schooling from Nuh (Mewat). Ilyas hails from Sultanpur village, in Punhana and may help the Indian National Lok Dal to get support from the majority Meo Muslims.