By Nirendra Dev
Stating that the voters in Varanasi have always sprung major surprises by taking leaders to great heights and dropping them as well, Samajwadi Party candidate for the prestigious seat Shalini Yadav has exuded confidence that she could be the ‘chosen one’ in this year’s contest.
“We are not exaggerating things. But people of Varanasi have always stunned poll pundits. Kashi barey yodhya tayar karte haen aur giratey bhi haen (Varanasi produces big leaders and then brings down towering personalities as well),” Yadav told UNI in Varanasi.
She further said, “In 2014, the voters showed confidence in Arvind Kejriwal who was an outsider and dumped Congress. So essentially the point is though Narendra Modi won with a huge mandate, he could face an indifferent electorate this time”.
Yadav also said that the BJP has sought to insult and underestimate the political wisdom of the Varanasi voters. “The BJP is already saying Narendra Modi winning the seat is a mere formality. This over confidence and complacency will go against them,”she says.
The voters in Varanasi have “never stuck” to one candidate for long and that is why a sitting MP of 2004 Rajesh Kumar Mishra (Congress), who polled over 2.06 lakh votes) was humbled and his votes reduced to mere about 66,000 in 2009.
“People here showed immense faith in candidates such as Mukhtar Ansari in 2009 and even a stalwart Murli Manohor Joshi could narrowly win by a margin of about 18,000 votes,” she said.
The Samajwadi Party candidate also said that things are “changing fast” on ground and there is now a fast ‘polarisation’ between anti-Modi and pro-Modi voters.
“Here comes the relevance of Mahagatbandhan (the alliance of SP-BSP-RLD) and that is why the voters are gradually drifting loyalties towards the alliance. I should not be exaggerating, but a big surprise on cards for Modi ji and his party,” Yadav said.
A former Congress leader who only joined Samajwadi Party recently, she said, “People of Varanasi do not have much faith in Congress. Young people may not remember even when was the last time Congress won this seat.”
Notably, Yadav is the daughter-in-law of a Congress leader Shyamlal Yadav who was elected as a lawmaker from the constituency in 1984. Locals say she is rooted in the city and thus possibly she can give a “fight” if the caste equations go in her favour.
Minority Muslims – who make a substantial population – in the temple city are on the face value still divided between making Congress and the Mahagatbandhan. But once things become clearer on who would be ‘bigger fighter’ against Prime Minister, the Muslims would back that candidate.
To a question on the growing perception that Yadavs in Varanasi have over the years generally voted for BJP, Yadav said, “Such a notion is also erroneous. Moreover, going by the trends at the state level Gatbandhan would do well in the rest of Uttar Pradesh and thus, Yadavs in the city will also back Samajwadi candidate”.
Yadav – as a Congress nominee for the Mayoral polls in 2017 – polled 1.14 lakh votes and finished second to the BJP nominee who polled about two lakh votes.
“I am a fighter,” she says adding “that is why the confidence that the people of Varanasi will support my candidature”.
Answering another question, she asserted: “My contest is against Prime Minister and the BJP because nothing of the big promises made by the BJP have been implemented in the city”.
“We have water problem. Pollution is another issue of great concern but last five years, we only saw some bridges coming up here and there and Varanasi has become a city of holes,” she said. (UNI)