Karhal (UP), Feb 9 (PTI) Pitted against Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav in Karhal seat of Mainpuri district, Union Minister SP Singh Baghel says no area can be termed as a “fortress” or “stronghold” as personalities like Rahul Gandhi and Mamata Banerjee have also tasted defeat in their bastions.
He claimed the fight in the high-profile seat is not “one-sided” as a journey across the constituency would show that there is a BJP wave.
Brought in politics by former chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, the BJP leader advised his principal opponent to try his luck from some assembly segment of Azamgarh too.
When asked whether he could demolish the fortress of the Yadav family, Baghel told PTI, “There is nothing like fortress or stronghold in democracy. We have seen demolition of such fortress.You have seen Rahul Gandhi got defeated in Amethi and Mamata Banerjee in West Bengal.” Besides Dimple Yadav got defeated twice in Firozabad (2009 bypolls) and Kannauj (2019). In 2019, Akshay Yadav lost from Firozabad while Dharmendra Yadav lost from Budaun, he said.
Banerjee had tasted defeat in last year’s assembly polls from Nandigram from where she had shot into limelight after launching the anti-land acquisition stir against Tata’s Nano project in 2007 during CPI-M rule. Since the day of nomination on January 31, Baghel has been residing in BJP leader Govind Bhadauria’s house in Ghiror, where he has also made his election office. He leaves in the morning and continues to meet people till late in the evening.
About his winning prospects, Baghel said, “My election is going very good. If someone from Akhilesh Yadav’s party can honestly tell him, he should go to Azamgarh and file nominations from there also”.
“No one can dare to tell him that his seat (Karhal) is not clear, which is the reality,” he said.
After filing his nominations, Akhilesh Yadav had said that he had left his campaign to party workers here and he will not be coming.
“But finding the going tough he came to campaign for himself on Sunday,” the 62-year-old Baghel said.
When asked about the SP’s claim that election in Karhal is one-sided, Baghel, a former UP police sub-inspector, who was once a security officer of ex-CM Mulayam Singh Yadav said, “If it is one-sided why he has pushed members of his family here for campaigning”.
“Why Dharmendra Yadav (former Budaun MP), Tej Pratap Yadav (former Mainpuri MP) and other members of his family are campaigning for him,” he asked.
“If someone understands politics, he should come and attend my meetings and see for himself the ground reality,” he said.
“Not only crowd but current of Karhal is visible in my meetings and indicates a BJP wave. The helplessness on the faces of people has ended with my entry in the poll fray,” he asserts.
“Though Akhilesh Yadav has selected the best of the 403 seats for him but he knows his win from here is not clear. He must not have expected that I will filet nominations against him from here,” the union minister of state said.
Mulayam Singh Yadav got elected from Mainpuri by margin of over 90,000 only despite the SP’s alliance with the BSP in 2019 and my margin was over two lakh from Agra seat, he said.
Asked why he feels his candidature is stronger than Akhilesh Yadav’s as Karhal has an overwhelming presence of the Yadav caste constituting about 40 per cent of the total 3.7 lakh electorate, Baghel said it means 60 percent votes are of others.
The Yadav count is 1.4 lakh in Karhal while there are around 34,000 Shakhyas (OBCs) and around 14,000 Muslims.
“If those whose land and plots were grabbed, those who faced social humiliation for past years and the beneficiaries of government schemes vote for us, we will be winning the seat,” he said.
While Muslim-Yadavs are considered as the core vote bank of the SP, BSP’s Kuldeep Narain will be vying for Dalit and other caste votes.
On why it is considered a stronghold of the SP, Baghel said, “Earlier no one used to muster the courage to contest. When candidate was weak people used to think that its better to vote for the winning candidate. But this is not so this time.” He said not only Karhal, the BJP has emerged stronger on other three seats of Mainpuri, Kishni and Bhogaon in Mainpuri district after he jumped into the poll fray.
The BJP had won the Karhal seat in 2002 but Sobaran Singh Yadav joined the SP, he said. This is the second time Baghel is contesting against Akhilesh Yadav, the first occasion was the 2009 Lok Sabha election from Firozabad.
Akhilesh Yadav will be Baghel’s third poll rival from Mulayam Singh Yadav’s clan in the last 13 years.
The other two were Akhilesh Yadav’s wife Dimple Yadav in the 2009 Firozabad Lok Sabha by-election and Mulayam’s cousin Ram Gopal Yadav’s son Akshay in the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Firozabad.
Baghel had lost all those poll battles.
Karhal will go to polls on February 20 in the third of the seven-phased elections in the state.
All eyes are set on this seat as Akhilesh Yadav is the chief ministerial candidate of the opposition alliance in Uttar Pradesh. PTI ABN SNS DV DV DV
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Source: The Print