Uttar pradesh

U.P. Assembly elections | Congress bets on public sympathy in Unnao Sadar seat, BJP cites govt work, policies

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during 'Jan Vishwas Rally' in Unnao. File.

Union Home Minister Amit Shah during 'Jan Vishwas Rally' in Unnao. File.

Struggling to regain lost ground in Uttar Pradesh, the Congress is betting on the mother of the Unnao rape survivor from the Unnao Sadar Assembly segment, hoping to convert public sympathy into votes.

Stepping into electoral politics for the first time, Asha Singh wants to convert the contest into a fight for women's honour. She wants to ensure justice for the victims of such heinous crimes.

Through her, the Congress hopes to reclaim the seat it had last won in 1967.

"I am in the fray to reclaim the lost honour of women. I hope the people will elect the Congress this time," Ms. Singh said.

The Congress candidate faces a stiff challenge from the BJP's sitting MLA Pankaj Gupta, who claims all schemes started by Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath for the people of the country and the state have been made available here.

Citing developmental projects taken up here, Mr. Gupta mentioned ₹300 crore worth of AMRUT water scheme, widening of roads, and sewage scheme among others.

"A number of works can be cited through which the Yogi Adityanath government has extended every facility to the people of the state and of Unnao," he said, adding that the most important aspect to consider is that he is available round the clock for the people of the constituency.

The entry of another debutant, 31-year-old Abhinav Kumar, an MBBS and son of three-time MLA Deepak Kumar, as the Samajwadi Party candidate has made the contest interesting.

Mr. Kumar claimed he has a clear vision of the improvement required in the constituency, and that it was his responsibility to take care of his family's legacy.

"My grandfather, Manohar Lal, had been the MLA from Unnao Sadar many times. My uncle, Ramkumar, also contested once from this assembly seat. My father, Deepak Kumar, had been the MLA from this seat thrice. After the death of my parents, it is my responsibility now to take care of my family's legacy, and I am fully prepared to take care of it," he said.

Given a choice, Abhinav Kumar said, he would want to study further but the death of both his parents has led him into politics.

"All the development work you are seeing in Unnao city today has been done by my father Deepak Kumar," he added.

In keeping with his vocation, he wants to strengthen the medical services here after winning the election. The trauma centre set up here during the Samajwadi Party government has not become fully operational despite accidents taking place on the Lucknow-Kanpur highway on a daily basis, the SP candidate said.

Creating jobs and resolving problems of stray cattle are also among his priorities.

The Unnao Sadar seat, which has been with the BJP since the past two elections, was once considered a Samajwadi Party stronghold.

But in the by-election in 2014 after the death of the then sitting MLA Deepak Kumar, his wife Manisha Deepak lost to BJP's Pankaj Gupta.

Then in the 2017 assembly elections, Manisha Deepak lost again to Gupta.

The BSP has fielded Devendra Singh from the seat who is banking on the work done by the Mayawati government to win over the vote and support of the electorate.

"People of Unnao have not forgotten the development work of the Mayawati government, and I am confident that they will vote for me to ensure that 'Behenji' becomes the chief minister again," he said.

Local people in the area, however, believe the main contest is between the BJP and the SP.

Gaurishankar, a shopkeeper in Reu village, said the main fight will be between the lotus (BJP) and the cycle (SP) and anyone of them can win. On the Congress candidate, he claimed that she is not in the race anywhere.

Sumit Gupta, who runs a sweet shop in Makhi village, claimed the BJP will win the seat again and the Congress candidate has no presence there.

"All the people in the village know that former MLA Kuldeep Singh Sengar was wrongly framed in the rape case," he alleged.

On June 4, 2017, the rape survivor, who was still a minor, went to meet Sengar for a job. A few days later, she complained that the MLA had raped her.

Police registered a case in the matter following a court order. The family of the rape survivor continued to receive threats even after the case was registered but did not give up in their quest for justice.

The probe in the case was handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in April 2018.

As the incident triggered nationwide outrage, the BJP expelled Sengar from the party. On December 19, 2019, Delhi's Tis Hazari Court sentenced Sengar to life imprisonment for rape.

After his conviction, the Uttar Pradesh Assembly cancelled Sengar's membership.

The Unnao Sadar seat has over 4.09 lakh voters, including 1.86 lakh women. It will go to polls in the fourth phase on February 23.


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Printable version | Jul 4, 2022 9:01:10 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/congress-bets-on-public-sympathy-in-unnao-sadar-seat-bjp-cites-govt-work-policies/article38417820.ece