Uttar Pradesh Polls: In Sirathu, it’s about relationships too

Published on Feb 26, 2022 10:15 PM IST

From the 61 assembly seats going to poll in the fifth phase on Sunday, the focus is on Sirathu, where deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is contesting.

On Sunday, 61 assembly seats will go to polls in the fifth phase, including Sirathu, where deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is contesting. (FOR REPRESENTATION PURPOSE)
On Sunday, 61 assembly seats will go to polls in the fifth phase, including Sirathu, where deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is contesting. (FOR REPRESENTATION PURPOSE)

Of the 61 assembly seats going to polls in the fifth phase on Sunday, the focus is on Sirathu seat in Kaushambi district from where deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya is contesting.

Elections here are as much about relationships as about politics.

Maurya’s opponent is an educated OBC woman Pallavi Patel, sister of union minister Anupriya Patel, who is backing Maurya. Anupriya is leader of Apna Dal (Sonelal), which is ally of BJP while Pallavi is of Apna Dal (Kamerawadi) that is headed by their mother Krishna Patel, which is backing Samajwadi Party.

Union home minister Amit Shah, while campaigning for Maurya in Sirathu recently, described their relationship as that of ‘bhai (brother).”

“Since 2013, me and Keshav ji are like brothers,” Shah said.

Interestingly, while Anupriya campaigned against Pallavi, Maurya refrained from making any direct attack on his opponent.

Earlier, Maurya had cleared that since Anupriya called him her brother, hence by extension Pallavi, too, was like younger sister to him. Throughout the campaign, Maurya has been targeting the SP, not Pallavi.

There was much suspense whether Pallavi would contest the elections even after SP declared her its candidate. However, Pallavi decided to contest.

Jaya Bachchan, SP Rajya Sabha MP, while campaigning here, had sought votes in the name of “bhaiyyaji” (her husband Amitabh Bachchan) and described herself as ‘badi bahu’ of the region.

Jaya referred to Amitabh’s famous win against Hemwati Nandan Bahuguna from adjacent Allahabad (now Prayagraj) Lok Sabha seat in 1984.

“Back then I had sought votes from you while describing myself as the ‘badi bahu’ and you had blessed me abundantly. Now, I am back again as your ‘badi bahu’ seeking votes for Pallavi,” Jaya said while describing SP chief Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple as ‘choti bahu’, who, too, campaigned in Sirathu.

During campaigning Maurya, who was born in Sirathu and had won his first assembly elections from here even during the SP wave in 2012, has been describing himself as a ‘beta’ in the constituency.

If Maurya has been describing himself as ‘beta’, Pallavi has been pitching herself as ‘bahu’ of Sirathu.

Asked if she felt any hitch while campaigning against her sister in Sirathu, Anupriya said she was seeking votes for BJP and NDA.

“My only question to my sister is why she chose to contest on another party’s symbol, something that our late father Sonelal Patel ji would have never tolerated,” Anupriya said. Pallavi is contesting on SP ticket from Sirathu.

Interestingly, Anupriya had withdrawn her party Apna Dal (Sonelal) candidate from Pratapgarh (Sadar) seat after SP named her mother Krishna Patel as candidate on the seat.

Unlike Apna Dal family, Maurya’s family is unitedly rooting for him.

Maurya’s mother Dhanpati, 73, despite her son’s political rise, still lives a simple life and recalls how her son once sold newspapers and tea. “All of us are village people who prefer villages more,” she said while talking to HT on phone. “Keshavji has individual relations here. He is ‘bhaiya’ to some, ‘beta’ to others. Here, it’s not a question of who will win? It’s all about the margin of Keshav ji’s win,” said Sirathu lawmaker Sheetla Prasad Patel, who had distributed sweets after being replaced by Keshav Prasad on Sirathu seat.

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Manish Chandra Pandey is a Lucknow-based assistant editor with Hindustan Times’ political bureau in Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh. Along with political reporting, he loves to write off beat/human interest stories that people connect with. Manish also covers departments. He feels he has a lot to learn not just from veterans but from the newcomers who make him realise that there is so much to unlearn

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