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Lok Sabha elections 2019: Tough fight for Dimple in Kannauj as BJP looks to breach SP bastion

BJP’s nominee Jagdev Singh Yadav did not show up to file his nomination on the last day and independent candidates withdrew from the race following which Dimple Yadav was elected unopposed.

lok sabha elections Updated: Apr 27, 2019 16:00 IST
Haidar Naqvi
Haidar Naqvi
Hindustan Times, KANPUR
BJP,Lok Sabha,Elections
In Dimple’s case, the events in the run-up to the 2012 by-polls saw major political parties surrendering. The BSP as well as the Congress decided not to contest from the seat.

When Akhilesh Yadav vacated the Kannauj Lok Sabha seat to take over as Uttar Pradesh chief minister in 2012, he decided to field his wife Dimple Yadav in the bypolls from the Samajwadi Party bastion.

However, after Dimple’s defeat to Congress’s Raj Babbar in the 2009 bypolls in Firozabad, neither SP patron Mulayam Singh Yadav nor Akhilesh wanted to leave any stone unturned to ensure her victory.

Mulayam, in particular, started reaching out to people the way he had done for his son Akhilesh when he first contested from Kannauj against Akbar Ahmed Dumpy of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in 1999.

In Dimple’s case, the events in the run-up to the 2012 by-polls saw major political parties surrendering. The BSP as well as the Congress decided not to contest from the seat.

BJP’s nominee Jagdev Singh Yadav did not show up to file his nomination on the last day and independent candidates withdrew from the race following which Dimple Yadav was elected unopposed.

However, the family faced a brief moment of scare in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls when the BJP, fighting the SP on every booth, took the contest to a near photo finish. Dimple managed to win despite the ‘Modi wave’ but the margin dropped to less than 20,000 votes against BJP’s Subrat Pathak. BJP STEPS UP CAMPAIGN “The close contest gave BJP the confidence that it can pull off a major upset in 2019. If SP loses this seat, it would mean Akhilesh Yadav has lost,” says Vijay Mishra of Kanpatiyapur village.

Last week, BJP president Amit Shah was in Kanpur to review the 10 seats in the Kanpur-Bundelkhand region. Kannauj was the only seat which the BJP could not win and Shah told his team that winning the SP bastion was a priority this time, said a BJP leader not willing to be named.

The Kannauj Lok Sabha constituency has always been prestigious for the Yadav clan. While the SP is banking on its goodwill and the work done by the party in the last two decades, BJP candidate Subrat Pathak is asking voters to vote for the “ghar ka ladka” (local) instead of “baharwale” (outsiders). “Cars engaged for campaigning have been withdrawn and workers have been asked to use motorcycles to go from village to village to reach out to more people,” a party leader said. SOCIAL ENGINEERING The party is also using social engineering to strengthen its vote bank this time. “It is time to align the non-Jatav Scheduled Castes. They comprise about 14% besides the non-Yadav OBCs like Kushwaha which comprise about 10%,” the party leader cited above said.

The idea is to counter SP’s Muslim-Yadav-Jatav combination with BJP’s own social engineering along with an appeal in the name of Narendra Modi, which worked well last time when SP contested without the Jatavs. This time too, Modi is central to the party’s campaign and workers are seeking votes in his name. They avoid talking about BJP’s achievements but stress on nationalism, Balakot and surgical airstrikes. SP BANKING ON PAST PERFORMANCE, GOODWILL To counter the BJP, SP’s campaign revolves around the development work done by it in Kannauj in the last 20 years and targets the BJP government for not fulfilling its promises.

“The government announced to buy potato from farmers for a minimum support price of Rs 480 per 50 kg but not a single kilo was bought from them,” says Khalilur Rahman, a poll analyst.

“The failure of the state government to check stray cattle menace is another big issue in Kannauj villages,” he adds.

Kamal Gupta, who teaches at a degree college, feels shelving of the projects brought to Kannauj by Akhilesh Yadav could also put the BJP on a sticky wicket.

The ambitious international perfume park, aimed at giving perfumers a global platform has been junked. The construction of a potato mandi along the expressway stopped after the BJP government came to power in the state in 2017.

“The government hasn’t even started the construction work of a hostel for regional engineering college started by Akhilesh Yadav,” says Surendra Sahu.

“The BJP put up a spectacular fight in 2014 but it did not dampen the goodwill of the Yadav clan. The BJP can thank the caste alignment and loss of Bharthana assembly segment in the reconstruction of Kannauj Lok Sabha seat,” he adds.

Bharthana, now a part of the Etawah seat, has Yadavs in majority.

First Published: Apr 27, 2019 12:19 IST

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