Jitin is ‘Modi emissary’ on Varun’s turf - Pilibhit - Hindustan Times

Jitin is ‘Modi emissary’ on Varun’s turf - Pilibhit

Apr 13, 2024 07:22 AM IST

Supporters of BSP candidate Anis Ahmed Khan are raising the “local versus outsider” issue terming the BJP and SP candidates as outsiders who will leave the constituency once the election is over

PILIBHIT A cavalcade comprising SUVs meanders through the narrow lanes of Bhanga Mohammadi village, and as the dust settles down, villagers rush out of their houses to catch a glimpse of Jitin Prasada, recently appointed as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) candidate for the Pilibhit constituency, taking over from party stalwart Varun Gandhi.

BJP candidate Jitin Prasada addressing a public meeting in Pilibhit on Friday. (Sourced)
BJP candidate Jitin Prasada addressing a public meeting in Pilibhit on Friday. (Sourced)

“For around two decades, we have seen the Gandhis - Maneka Gandhi and her son Varun seeking votes for the lotus symbol,” said Diwakar Verma, a native of the village. The duo had become synonymous with Pilibhit, winning one election after another. Though the mother-son are missing from the election battlefield of Pilibhit, saffron foot soldiers have rallied around Jitin to win the seat, he said.

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Pilibhit goes to polls in the first phase on April 19.

Jitin alights from the vehicle to greet people and BJP workers raise slogans in his support. He moves towards a dais set up in a mango orchard, where party workers welcome him. Soon, villagers assemble here while some take shelter under the trees while others move in the makeshift tent erected in the open space.

The BJP workers distribute leaflets, highlighting schemes launched by the central and state governments.

Jitin announces that he has come to Pilibhit as an emissary of Prime Minister Narendra Modi. “The PM has sent me to work for the development of the constituency and welfare of the masses. You have voted in support of BJP candidates in 2014 and2019 Lok Sabha elections, paving way for lotus bloom in the constituency. In 2024 election too, voters should again press the lotus symbol button ensuring the BJP’s victory and making Modi ji PM for the third term,” he said.

“I am just a medium, your votes will be for Prime Minister Narendra Modi. For the last 10 years you have witnessed projects and schemes launched by the Modi government. It’s time again to entrust faith in Modi ji with your vote to continue with development. I assure you that there will be non-stop work in the constituency. I am not the one who will disappear after seeking your vote but remain in the constituency to dispose of grievances of people. I will pay back for your votes by launching new projects,” he emphasised.

To counter opposition’s charge that the BJP has fielded an outsider, Jitin said: “My family’s association with Pilibhit is generations old. It owns agriculture land in Puranpur tehsil and I have been visiting the area regularly. I have represented Dhaurahra and Shahjahanpur LS seats that shares boundary with Pilibhit. The people of Pilibhit know me personally and are aware of my contribution to the development of the area,” he emphasised.

Jitin said the UP government has launched 1,000-crore projects for the development of Pilibhit. “As PWD minister, I have launched construction of four-lane road in the district,” he said.

Playing down the absence of sitting MP Varun Gandhi from the election campaign, Jitin said: “The party sends leaders to campaign in constituencies. The leadership decided to field me from the seat and several projects have been launched in the constituency since 2014. There is no difference between leaders and workers over the selection of the candidate. All have mobilised their resources for the victory of BJP,” he said.

BJP leader Sushil Gangwar said Varun Gandhi had won the 2019 Lok Sabha election by a margin of over 2 lakh votes defeating SP-BSP alliance candidate. Along with retaining the seat, Jitin faces the challenge of maintaining the big lead over rival party candidate in the election. The rallies of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and chief minister Yogi Adityanath have given the much-needed boost to Jitin’s campaign.

Addressing a public meeting in Bisalpur area of the constituency, SP candidate Bhagwat Sharan Gangwar played the Varun card to attack the BJP. “The BJP denied ticket to the party leader who raised the issue of farmers and unemployed youths. A leader who was unwilling to contest from the Gandhi bastion has been given ticket. People cannot be taken for a ride...they will teach a lesson to the BJP in the upcoming polls,” he said.

Supporters of BSP candidate Anis Ahmed Khan alias Phul Babu are raising the “local versus outsider” issue terming the BJP and SP candidates as outsiders who will leave the constituency once the election is over. The BSP candidate resides in Pilibhit and has been active in the politics of the district for two decades. Several development projects had been launched in the constituency when the BSP government was in power from 2007-12.

Sripal Sharma, a teacher in Government Inter College, Pilibhit, said: “Maneka and Varun Gandhi have made Pilibhit a BJP stronghold, winning successive Lok Sabha elections with ease. With both missing from the constituency, the SP and BSP smell an opportunity to wrest the seat from BJP. It’s a new turf for the BJP candidate. The opposition tried to flare up annoyance among the Sikh community over denial of ticket to Varun. The Sikhs, OBCs and Upper Castes have been the traditional support base of the BJP. The BJP held meetings in the Sikh dominated areas to win their support,” he said.

A triangular contest is on the cards between the BJP, SP and BSP in Pilibhit constituency that has 20% Muslim voters, 17% Lodhs, 10% Kurmis, 8% Sikhs, 17% Dalits, and 15 % upper caste voters, he said.

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    Rajesh Kumar Singh is Assistant Editor, Hindustan Times at the political bureau in Lucknow. Along with covering politics, he covers government departments. He also travels to write human interest and investigative stories.

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