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Sons shine in fathers’ glory

Ajit singh looked up at the chopper circling the sunny sky and muttered in the middle of his speech, 'Rahul Baba', reports Amitava Sanyal.

india Updated: Apr 09, 2007 05:27 IST
Amitava Sanyal
Amitava Sanyal

Ajit singh looked up at the chopper circling the sunny sky and muttered in the middle of his speech, "Rahul Baba". Minutes later, the Gandhi scion landed metres away from where Singh was addressing the crowd.

The two leaders are campaigning in the Jat heartland of Sisauli, near Baghra in West Uttar Pradesh. The constituencies here are among the 58 that will vote on April 13 during the second phase of UP's assembly election.

Here, political legitimacy flows strictly along patriarchal lines. Gandhi is here to share the goodwill his surname commands with Pankaj Kumar, son of Congress Rajya Sabha MP Harendra Malik, and Mahendra Singh Tikait's son Rakesh Tikait. Ajit Singh, of course, dons the mantle passed on by his father, Charan Singh.

Apart from being the stronghold of the influential Jats, the region is attractive because it is rich with sugarcane money. No one wants to be left out. Ajit Singh, who has now parted ways with the Samajwadi Party, is campaigning hard for his own Rashtriya Lok Dal. Gandhi is here to hardsell the cause of Mahendra Singh Tikait's Bahujan Kisan Dal, with whom the Congress has tied up for the first time.

At Gandhi's public meeting, attended by a 3,000-strong crowd, he shared the stage with the Tikaits, Maliks, campaign manager Satish Sharma and UP Congress chief Salman Khursheed.

Tikait Sr rued the fact that the youth of the region seemed to be either "in rail or in jail". The shortest speech was perhaps by Gandhi, who spoke along the now-familiar line of UP being a leading state that has become a laggard.

Nobody made any promises, nobody stirred any nest. But in a place where legitimacy is gained in the name of the father, where's the need to do that?

First Published: Apr 09, 2007 05:19 IST