Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Bari Didi versus Choti Bahu

By Dilip Awasthi

Tables have turned for Lucknow Cant seat in this Vidhan Sabha election. This seat has been shuttling between the BJP and the Congress in the past couple of elections. Congress won it in 2012 the candidate who qon it for the Congress is contesting as a BJP nominee. On the other hand Samajwadi Party, which has had almost no say here, is contesting as BJP's main rival with Congress support of course. Comp;icated isn't it ?

Let's first add a little more to your confusion. The two women contestants are reffered by the voters as "Bari Didï" and "Choti Bahu". One is daughter of a former heavy weight UP chief minister and the other is daughter-in-law of another former chief minister and also step sister-in-law of the present chief minister. Is politics just a dynastic affair?

Enough of puzzles, welcome to the contest between Rita Bahuguna Joshi (67), daughter of Hemwati Nanadan Bahuguna, the sitting Congress MLA from this seat who has crossed over to the BJP and Aparna (Bisht) Yadav (26), Mulayam Singh Yadav's daughter-in-law and SP candidate, who is mostly surrounded by Congress leaders when she is campaigning. Rita Bahuguna Joshi is a seasoned politician, and is a professor at the University of Allahabad. She has been a Congress leader for last 24 years and has held positions of Mayor of Allahabad, National President of Mahila Congress (2003-2007) and State president of Congress (2007-2012). She joined BJP in 2016. For her five year term she has really worked hard and has nursed her constituency well.

Aparna Yadav, on the other hand is Mulayam Singh's "Choti Bahu". It starts and ends here. After her initial schooling in Lucknow, she studied in London where Prateek, Mulayam Singh's second son from his second wife was also studying. Both got involved in an affair and later got married. Akhilesh,  Mulayam's elder son from his first wife, and Prateek are like two poles of a magnet. They repel and never meet. Even in family function one arrives but the other leaves just in time. The Choti Bahu also does her part. She goes and publicly touches BJP leader Rajnath Singh's feet, issues statements which make chief minister Akhilesh cringe and finds Congress leaders more amicable than the SP bandwagon. Aparna started working in this constituency a little late as she was not sure that she would get SP's ticket though her father-in-law had announced it a couple of months ago.

In the 2012, Rita Joshi won this seat as Congress candidate by a comfortable margin of 21,000 votes against BJP. This time around, Joshi has herself switched loyalty and is contesting as a BJP candidate. This seat with 1.73 lakh voters is dominated by around 78,000 Brahmins, 36,000 Thakurs and a significant Pahari (Hill) population. Rita Bahuguna Joshi is a Pahari Brahmin and Aparna in her maiden days was a Pahari Thakur.

A high-pitched campaign is on for this seat which will go to polls next Sunday.        

No comments: