Rae Bareli (UP), Feb 2 (PTI) The Congress is banking on former minister Surendra Vikram Singh to redeem its pride in Harchandpur assembly segment, hoping to teach a lesson to its own MLA, Rakesh Singh, for switching sides.
Rakesh Singh, who won the seat in 2017 as a Congress nominee, is fighting the assembly election on a BJP ticket this time. Veteran Surendra Vikram Singh joined the Congress only recently and was thrown into the fray to rein in the “traitor”.
Harchandpur assembly segment is part of the Rae Bareli parliamentary constituency, regarded as a Gandhi family bastion.
“After I was given the ticket, Priyanka ji told me and all others to go all-out to trounce the local MLA who is indulging in ‘goondagardi’ (criminal acts),” Surendra Vikram Singh told PTI while campaigning in Paidepur village.
Electioneering is still low pitched because of the Covid protocol and the current focus on the western Uttar Pradesh districts, which go to the polls in the initial phases.
But as the Congress nominee reached the under-construction building where party supporters are gathered, he was greeted with a burst of slogans hailing him and senior leader Priyanka Gandhi Vadra.
“There is a lot of anger among the people for the present MLA for betraying the Congress, which had given him and his family all posts,” Singh, who is addressed by the local people as ”vidhayak ji’ (MLA), said.
He said Priyanka Gandhi is busy in other parts of the state but will definitely come here later.
Congress district unit secretary Manoj Tiwari said the region is all set to give a befitting reply to the “betrayers”.
He claimed that when Rakesh Singh won the seat the last time, he gave the credit to his brothers and not the Congress – and people took note of that.
Though Surendra Vikram Singh is an “outsider”, the Congress regarded him as the best bet to take on the BJP challenge. He has won assembly contests in 2002 and 2012, on Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party tickets.
“His choice is based on the feedback and also the internal survey done by the party for selection of candidates. He is a leader of the masses, who has stayed connected with the people down to the village level all through,” district Congress spokesperson Vinay Dwivedi said.
A little distance away, BJP nominee Rakesh Singh, who was also on a round of his constituency, said the Congress’ time has been over since 2014 when the BJP came to power at the Centre. These elections will also seal the fate of the Samajwadi Party, he added.
He said the BJP works in a manner that benefits at least some people in every village, and so it is not difficult to seek their support during elections. But the Congress brings its leaders and workers only to seek votes at election time and they all leave once it is over, Singh claimed.
He also accused the local representative for Sonia Gandhi of harming the party’s interests.
“This is not the Congress of Indira ji or Rajiv ji. Like Rahul ji, Priyanka Gandhi has also not shown political maturity,” the former Congress leader said.
He also felt that Congress slogan “Ladki hoon, lad sakti hoon” (I am girl, I can fight) is an improper portrayal of girls, who he said represent kindness and compassion.
The Samajwadi Party has fielded Rahul Lodhi, whose wife had contested as the BJP nominee from the same seat last time. The Bahujan Samaj Party has given the ticket to Shiv Prakash Lodhi.
The Congress is yet to announce its candidate for the Rae Bareli Sadar seat from where another MLA, Aditi Singh, has shifted to the BJP and is seeking re-election.
“The party will soon announce a candidate from the Sadar seat,” Dwivedi said, alleging that both Rakesh Singh and Aditi Singh parted ways with the Congress to serve their personal interests.
Harchandpur has 3.18 lakh voters. Polling is on February 23. PTI SAB SNS ASH ASH
This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.
Source: The Print