As one crosses IFFCO's 20 lakh metric tonne urea plant at Aonla, the largest fertiliser unit in the cooperative sector, one would expect to find Aonla town matching it in development. But the town, which shot into prominence when Maneka Gandhi contested the Lok Sabha election from this parliamentary constituency in the Rohilkhand area of Uttar Pradesh in 2009, appears to have missed the growth bus.
The dilapidated buildings, the filth and squalor all around and the condition of the roads tell a tale of neglect — for which the residents blame the various political parties. And the result could well hinge on the level of anger against each.
It is here that Samajwadi Party appears to be scoring over its three main rivals. In the 2009 Lok Sabha election, its candidate Dharmendra Kumar gave Maneka a tough fight. The party is hoping to repeat and even better its performance now. In Aonla, it has brought back Mahipal Singh Yadav, who won the Assembly seat in 1993, and had also contested the 1991 and 1996 polls. “I also fought the 1999 Lok Sabha election but lost despite winning in the Aonla and Faridpur segments then. Thereafter my wife twice become Chairman of the Nagar Palika, which covered more than two parliamentary segments, and so I was denied the party ticket.”
Yadav now wants to grab the opportunity with both hands and he seems to be strumming all the right chords. “I am telling people that the development that took place during the three terms of the SP is unmatched. While BJP tried to divide the people on religious lines, the BSP played the caste card to the hilt. Also the money spent by BSP on parks and statues is a sheer waste. As for the Congress, it is not even in the running despite the so-called Rahul factor.'' What also appears to be working in his favour is the denial of ticket to sitting MLA R.K. Sharma by the BSP. Many of Sharma's supporters are supporting the SP, to teach the BSP, which has fielded a Muslim in Sajid Ali Khan, a lesson. The BSP, which romped to power on social engineering, is banking on a new Muslim-Dalit experiment to bag the seat.
The BJP has fielded two-time minister Dharam Pal, who faces anger for not having developed roads and power in the constituency. Even Maneka has been unable to attract crowds .
The constituency has about 2.50 lakh votes -- Muslims about 50,000, Lodh Rajputs, SCs and Mauryas about 30,000 each, Thakurs 25,000, Brahmins 15,000 and Vaish about 10,000 and all the parties are working out different permutations and combinations to ensure a win.
Many believe the Congress will not be able to make much of a difference, but former minister Sudhir Maurya, husband of Congress candidate Anupama Chandel Maurya, who recently quit the BSP to join Congress, thinks otherwise. He believes the Mauryas have traditionally supported him, his wife is an educated woman born in a Thakur family of bureaucrats, and the fact that Rahul Gandhi is due to come here will turn things around for the party.