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Noida set to test heartland politics in UP's urban hub

Amit Kumar, Hindustan Times  Noida, February 26, 2014
First Published: 12:36 IST(26/2/2014) | Last Updated: 14:50 IST(26/2/2014)

With wide expressways, planned highrise colonies, malls, industries and India’s only international F1 circuit, Noida has led the wave of change in Uttar Pradesh.

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This year, it is the state’s chief host of the changing politics which claims to give voice to citizens’ demand for probity and transparency.

Uttar Pradesh — the hotbed of the heartland’s caste and community politics — is witnessing the emergence of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) here. The next few months will prove if it has enough takers in the rapidly urbanising landscape of the satellite town.

Noida falls in the Gautam Budh Nagar parliamentary constituency, which also consists of Jewar, Dadri, Khurja and Sikandrabad. In fact, Noida has put all the areas on a higher growth trajectory with all these segments witnessing urbanisation.

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In the recent elections, the BJP won the seat thrice before the BSP wrested it in 2009. But this time, the AAP is set to unsettle the equations. According to a snap poll conducted by ABP NewsNielsen in January, in the two seats of Ghaziabad and Gautam Budh Nagar in NCR, AAP and BJP were likely to win one seat each and BSP will lose its single seat (Gautam Budh Nagar).

Rapid urbanisation has significantly changed the demographics here. Vast tracts of rural space have given way to SEZs and expressways, resulting in the rise of a strong middle class.

As far as the five Assembly seats that are part of the Gautam Budh Nagar Lok Sabha seat are concerned, the ruling Samajwadi Party is not even a player. While BJP and BSP hold two seats each, Congress has one in its bag. Ironically, only SP has announced its candidate — Narendra Bhati — from here so far.

The BSP is expected to field the sitting MP Surendra Nagar again while the BJP may nominate Dr Mahesh Sharma, a close confidante of party veteran LK Advani. The Congress may field Thakur Dhirendra Singh, a party spokesperson for the state unit and a farmer leader. Senior AAP leader and lawyer Prashant Bhushan may be AAP’s nominee.

Ever since the last parliamentary elections here, over four lakh voters — most of them young professionals and students — have joined the electorate. The BJP is hopeful that the ‘Modi wave’ with its development plank may help it win the seat. Their confidence sounds a ring of approval among the voters in the urban pockets.

“Development is the main issue in these elections. We will vote for a candidate who will promise us development along with bringing down the prices of essential commodities,” said SM Singh, a resident of Noida Sector 62.

For Karshini Singh, a student of Amity University, corruption is the main issue. “The youth will find it easier to connect with the AAP and their agenda and their reach on social media,” she said.

Experts suggested that the sitting BSP MP’s support base among the Gujjars and Muslims makes him a strong contender.

The SP, however, may pay the price for ignoring the district as even its young CM Akhilesh Yadav did not visit Noida because of the perceived ‘jinx’ associated with it. Residents also accuse the state government of not doing enough to address problems of electricity, water and traffic chaos.

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