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Sonia to visit Amethi this week
Tara Shankar Sahay in New Delhi |
May 15, 2003 09:07 IST
The tussle between the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party to woo the Dalits and Thakurs of Uttar Pradesh's Amethi parliamentary constituency is getting more interesting by the day.
The Congress is trying hard to prove that it still has a firm grip in Amethi, which is represented by party president Sonia Gandhi in Parliament.
Gandhi will be in Amethi on May 15 and 16 to boost the morale of her party workers.
Congress members in UP are eagerly waiting for her, state party chief Arun Kumar Singh Munna told rediff.com on Wednesday.
"There is no doubt that the visit will electrify our party workers…" he said over phone from Lucknow.
Gandhi had last visited Amethi in January to help the party win the crucial Gauriganj assembly poll, which falls in Amethi parliamentary constituency.
But the party received a shock when Jang Bahadur, a Thakur candidate from Chief Minister Mayawati's BSP, won the poll.
This caused the BSP chief to assert that despite the 'Congress' propaganda', the Dalits and Thakurs, especially those in Amethi, had reposed faith in her coalition government.
But that may not be true.
Gandhi's daughter Priyanka had visited Amethi last year and helped a Dalit register a first information report against some people who had demolished his house.
In an act that endeared her to the dalits, she went on to get a house constructed for him.
A miffed Mayawati, who claims to be the champions of Dalits, hurriedly organised a BSP rally in Amethi and in a desperate move to woo the local people declared Amethi as the state's 71st district.
She even gave a new name to Amethi – Chhatrapati Shahuji Maharaj Nagar.
But all those efforts failed to generate any interest in the dalits.
As for the Thakurs supporting her coalition government, the less said the better. There are reports that at least one prominent Thakur from the Bharatiya Janata Party (the BSP's ally), Sanjay Singh, may rejoin the Congress.
Singh, scion of the Amethi princely family, was an associate of Sanjay Gandhi, the late brother-in-law of the Congress chief.
"If media reports in this context are true, then certainly it could benefit our party," said a Congress leader.
If he does come back, it would be because of the Thakur community's disillusionment with the BSP-BJP coalition.
Despite the BSP candidate's victory from Gauriganj, Thakurs are offended by Mayawati's tirade against the upper castes.
The Dalit chief minister has targeted Thakurs, most notably Independent legislator Raghuvir Pratap Singh, for 'special treatment'.
Singh's return will not be easy because his wife Ameeta (the former national badminton champion), a BJP leader, is a state minister.
Political observers point out that with the Congress being a distant fourth in UP politics (the first three being the BSP, BJP and the Samajwadi Party), Singh will have to think twice before returning to the Congress.
Congress activists in Delhi insist that there is something brewing.
Munna, however denied it.
Congress sources said Gandhi would take all factors into consideration before approving Singh's return.