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|September 25, 1999||
The Rediff Election Interview/ Begum Noor Bano
'Kalyan Singh has destroyed Uttar Pradesh'
Begum Noor Bano aka Mahatab Zamani, the widow of the former nawab of Rampur, was addressing voters from a make-shift stage in Ajitpur when Onkar Singh tracked her down.
The Begum is the Congress candidate from Rampur and faces a stiff challenge from the sitting BJP MP, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union minister of state for information and broadcasting.
"The people of Rampur have seen the true face of my rival and they know if they want any development in Rampur, they need to vote for the Congress, she told
The Begum is the Congress candidate from Rampur and faces a stiff challenge from the sitting BJP MP, Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi, the Union minister of state for information and broadcasting. "The people of Rampur have seen the true face of my rival and they know if they want any development in Rampur, they need to vote for the Congress, she toldrediff.com in an exclusive interview.
Your opponents say you don't stand a chance in this election and you are contesting merely for the sake of contesting.
I belong to the family of the former rulers of this estate. Our family has been in politics for ages. My husband Micky Mian represented this constituency in Parliament. I am contesting from Rampur so that the voice of the people of Rampur reaches Parliament.
I am contesting because I want save the people of Rampur from being divided. Vested interests have been trying to divide our people on the basis of their caste and religion. The Bharatiya Janata Party is at the forefront of this effort. But they will not succeed. You have just seen my meeting. You must have noticed that people of all religions were present and were listening to me with rapt attention.
There was a time when the people of Rampur came to you for redressal of their grievances. Now you have to come to them to seek their votes. How have you reconciled to this change?
In a democracy you have to go to people to seek their votes. So long as I am alive, I will continue to look after Rampur and its residents. My doors are open for them all the time. I share their joys and woes alike.
Is the Sonia factor working in any way in your favour?
Sonia Gandhi is undoubtedly a big factor not only my constituency but all over India. She has led the party from the front. The people of Rampur have great respect for this woman because she has suffered a lot for the country. As far as her foreign origins are concerned, I don't think that's an issue.
Do you think Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is misusing the official machinery, as is being alleged by your supporters?
I have some reports of Naqvi's attempts to misuse the official machinery, but the people of Rampur are vigilant and they would not allow him to get away with it. The truth is that he is scared. He is petrified. He does not know what to do. He has done nothing for the people of Rampur in the 14 months that he represented them in Parliament.
People say no matter who wins, their problems were likely to remain unattended. Do you think you would have the time to listen to them if/when you get elected?
Things would change once I get elected. Rampur has suffered from official neglect for too long. There are no roads worth the name here, electricity supply is poor, industries are closing and sugar mills are in a bad shape. The development works started during my husband's tenure have all come to a standstill.
Our children do not get admission in degree colleges. We have enough land to set up educational institutions this must be used judiciously . I want to see Rampur as a prosperous place. I want to launch a special project for women. I want to set up a polytechnic for girls. Rampur is our home. I have an emotional attachment to this place.
Normally candidates make tall promises, but once they get elected they are rarely seen in the constituency.
I can assure you that if I get elected I will stand by my people. I am not Abbas Naqvi who rents his house to a government organisation just because he wanted to make some money.
Is the anti-Kalyan Singh factor helping you ?
Certainly. The BJP under the chief ministership of Kalyan Singh has done a lot of damage to Uttar Pradesh. The secular traditions of Rampur have come under tremendous strain. There is nothing called law and order in the state. Kalyan Singh has destroyed Uttar Pradesh. People want development and are looking for a change and the Congress seems to be the only alternative.
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