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Updated: February 23, 2012 01:41 IST

Character, not caste, to the fore in Mathura

Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar
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Congress candidate Pradeep Mathur (centre) offering milk to Yamuna river in Mathura.
Photo: PTI
Congress candidate Pradeep Mathur (centre) offering milk to Yamuna river in Mathura.

Lord Krishna spoke about doing one's duty and not worrying about the results: but the chartered accountant, college lecturer and renowned paediatric surgeon in the fray from his reputed birthplace are certainly not undmindful of what they want to achieve: making it to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly.

For a change, the contest here is not so much about the caste of the candidates, but more about their integrity and character. The Congress' sitting MLA Pradeep Mathur is again contesting on the party ticket in a constituency which has just about 4,000 voters from his Kayastha community.

Despite that, in the 2007 Assembly election he bagged 45,383 votes to defeat his nearest rival Murari Lal of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) by 21,090 votes.

Harish Sharma, a school teacher, says Mathur's appeal lies in his simplicity. A chartered accountant, he dresses nattily. But when it comes to interacting with people, there are no airs about him.

The BJP has fielded Dr. Devinder Sharma, a college teacher, who till recently moved around in a scooter. BJP workers believe Sharma, with his ABVP (BJP youth wing) credentials, is just what they needed. “Devinder nahin fakir hai, yuvaon ki tasveer hai''

In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, Sharma was the spokesperson for Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate Jayant Chaudhary [the BJP and RLD had contested the election together].

He continues to enjoy a good rapport with RLD supporters in the area.

The Samajwadi Party, whose biggest opponent in this election appears to be its past, when crime surged, has tried to “cleanse” itself in this holy city by fielding a well-known paediatric surgeon, Dr. Ashok Agarwal, from a famous local sweet-making family.

He enjoys good support among the significant Vaish and Muslim population in the constituency because of his work as a paediatrician.

For a party which is looking to retaining the governance of Uttar Pradesh, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) appears to have missed out in Mathura. The party's candidate Pushpa Sharma is a former municipal chairman who earned a lot of money through land deals. But her overall reputation of being aggressive may ultimately mar her chances in this constituency, which has suddenly taken a liking to all things polite and polished.

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