//Muslim cleric body fields Dalit candidate

Muslim cleric body fields Dalit candidate

LALGANJ/AZAMGARH:  An interesting political equation has emerged in this region this time with the emergence of Ulema Council (UC) after the Batla House encounter in Delhi in September last. The UC has fielded Chandra Ram Saroj, a graduate from Allahabad University, from Lalganj seat, keeping in view the strong population of Muslims and Dalits. However, UC convener Maulana Amir Rashadi Madani and candidate Chandra Ram Saroj denied any communal line over such a move. “We are fighting for justice only and our slogan is ‘ekata ka raj chalega, Hindu Muslim saath chalega’,” claimed Madani.

It is difficult to imagine that the newly emerged UC will be in fight, but its role can prove a spoilsport for the candidates-in-fight, particularly SP and BSP. The constituency has about 4.5 lakh Muslim voters and four lakh Dalit voters.

Local natives, particularly the Muslim youth, feel for want of development- oriented politics, the region is facing backwardness that may deviate the unemployed youth from the right path. They disapproved of the terror tag to Azamgarh district and claimed it brought a bad name to the district. “It is unfortunate that our credentials have become doubtful. You know when we went to Dehradoon we were denied accommodation in hotels because we are from Azamgarh district,” said Mohammed Tariq, a local native. “Things will change only when politics becomes development-oriented,” he said.

No significant changes were noticed at the Parliamentary constituencies of Lalganj and Azamgarh in the period between the two general elections of 2004 and 2009, except that they earned notoriety for terror links, particularly after the alleged involvement of local youth in terrorist blasts at different places in the country.

Like 2004 Lok Sabha elections, this time too the political parties are promising moon to the electorates. But, main issues like poor infrastructure and pathetic condition of basic amenities continue to occupy the back seat, giving a way to the caste and religion-based politics. Both the Parliamentary constituencies of Azamgarh district have been lagging behind in the race of industrial development since independence, though the district has a good agricultural base. But, the farming community is also not getting desired support from the government machinery.

“Pichhle 20-25 varshon se sabhi rajnitik dalon ke neta is gaon mein har vidhan sabha aur lok sabha chunav mein aate rahe hain aur road banvane ka vada karte rahe hain, lekin abhi tak road nahi ban saka hai (For over the past two decades, leaders of various political parties have been coming to our village at the time of assembly and parliamentary elections, promising proper roads. But, nothing has been done so far),” rued the natives of Nizampur Gobari village, with around 1,450 voters. To express their mistrust in politicians, the villagers put a banner displaying ‘Road nahin to vote nahi’ (No road no vote: We boycott this election) at the entry point of the village.

“It is enough. We have lost our faith in these politicians”

In the last Vidhan Sabha elections, Sukhdev Rajbhar, who is the Speaker of UP Vidhan Sabha, also came to the village and promised us road. But, it seems that after winning the election, he forgot his promise,” exclaimed Raghunath, a local resident. Their problem is genuine, no four-wheeler can reach the village that is connected with a mud road (about 2km), which is also in a bad shape and narrow at several points, though the village is situated about 6-7 km away from the main Varanasi-Azamgarh Road.

The UP Vidhan Sabha Speaker represents the Lalganj assembly constituency. However, the Lalganj Parliamentary constituency was represented in 2004 by Daroga Prasad Saroj of Samajwadi Party, which has fielded him again in this general election. Since 1996 general elections, the Lalganj Lok Sabha seat has been represented by BSP and SP alternately. In 1996, Bali Ram of BSP won the seat but lost it to Daroga Prasad Saroj in 1998. Again in 1999, Bali Ram was victorious but defeated in 2004 by Saroj. This time too BSP has fielded Bali Ram from this seat while the BJP has fielded Neelam Sonkar.

8 Apr 2009,  Binay Singh, TNN