Robertsganj: Apna Dal (S) faces uphill battle in difficult poll terrain - Hindustan Times
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Robertsganj: Apna Dal (S) faces uphill battle in difficult poll terrain

By, Sonbhadra
May 30, 2024 04:40 PM IST

The poll chat in remote villages is focussed on caste calculus, unemployment and inflation. While many praise PM Narendra Modi, anti-incumbency sentiments against the sitting MP are palpable

In the rocky terrain of Robertsganj Lok Sabha constituency, the BJP ally Apna Dal (S) faces the uphill task of retaining the seat amid the talk of anti-cumbency against the sitting MP Pakuri Lal Kol, who has been replaced by his daughter-in-law Rinki Kol, and caste calculus. The poll buzz has pushed on-ground concerns like the presence of fluoride in water in 169 villages to the background.

This parliamentary constituency, which votes in the final phase on June 1, shares its borders with four states: Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh. (HT Photo)
This parliamentary constituency, which votes in the final phase on June 1, shares its borders with four states: Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, and Madhya Pradesh. (HT Photo)

Nevertheless, the Apna Dal (S) sees a sliver of hope in the Modi factor in this constituency in eastern Uttar Pradesh’s Sonbhadra district, which is famous for power generation, natural beauty, hills, jungles and many panoramic sights.

This parliamentary constituency, which votes in the last phase on June 1, shares its borders with four states-- Bihar, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Madhya Pradesh.

The Samajwadi Party has fielded BJP rebel Chhotelal Kharwar, the former Sonbhadra MP who represented the seat from 2014 to 2019.

Babbu Tiwari, a resident, complains, “In last five years, I never saw our MP in our town Ghorawal. He didn’t have time for the public.”

“This time, Apna Dal (S), an ally of the NDA, has fielded Rinki Kol from Robertsganj. She is daughter-in-law of the sitting MP who didn’t visit the locality ever in the last five years, let alone developmental works,” he adds.

Arvind Gupta, a resident of village Sangobandh, says, “No matter who is saying what. Eventually, many people will turn to the Apna Dal (S) and support it since people like us don’t look at the local candidate. We look at Modi. We have to make him the prime minister the third time.”

Gupta, too, complains that the sitting MP didn’t take the pain to visit the remote villages.

“Many people are talking about local issues. But we look at Modiji under whose leadership the country is developing. Those who have received benefits are with the government. Security has increased, mafia raj has come to an end in U.P,” Ramesh Kumar says.

But Sukhmania Devi, a resident of Robertsganj, says inflation and unemployment increased, adding, “We want change.”

Political analyst Amaresh Chandra says the caste calculus plays a decisive role in the election, no matter who is discussing what at present.

“The parties have fielded candidates keeping in view this arithmetic. Tribals, and Dalit voters together account for seven lakh voters. In addition, the Modi factor is also there,” he says.

Indresh Singh, a resident of Mahuli village in Sonbhadra near the Chhattishgarh border, observes that the fight is tough for Apna Dal (S) owing to the sitting MP.

“As the party is a BJP ally, people think of Prime Minister Narendra Modi when they go to cast their vote. Eventually, this will play a very important role,” he adds.

Shaharawat Khan, who describes himself as an SP supporter, says there should be change since inflation and unemployment have increased.

Senior SP leader Avninash Kushwaha says, “A wind is blowing against the NDA in entire country. No different is case here. The INDIA bloc is in a very strong position here. Change will be there for sure.”

Amid the poll din, issues like lack of health infrastructure in remote villages and fluoride in water affecting the health of several people in 169 villages in four developmental blocks of Sonbhadra have taken a back seat.

The presence of fluoride in water is harming the health of people in 169 villages in Myorpur, Duddhi, Babhani, Chopan and Son areas of Robertsganj constituency. But it doesn’t find mention in poll chats, says social worker Jagat Vishwakarma.

At least two people have fluorosis, some mild and others serious, in every third family in these villages. The problem has been persisting for over three decades, adds Vishwakarma.

“Several people in around 169 villages in four development blocks Myorpur, Duddhi, Babhani and Chopan, are affected by fluoride in water. Jal Nigam has set up fluoride removal plants in over five dozen villages. Still, people in around 100 villages are bound to drink water comprising fluoride,” he says.

“Excess fluoride in water causes stiffness, joint pain and weakens the bones. For the people, the excess fluoride in water is a big issue but hardly any politician talks about,” says social activist Rameshwar Prasad, a local.

The Congress won the seat five times in 1962, 1967, 1971, 1980 and 1984. The BJP bagged it five times in 1989, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2014 and its ally Apna Dal (S) won it in 2019. The BSP won it in 2004 and 2007 (bypoll). Other winners include the Janata Party in 1977 and the Janata Dal in 1991.

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