Saiyed Danish for BeyondHeadlines
Raebareli, the constituency of the strongest woman in India is voting today. BeyondHeadlines finds out what does it mean by hailing from this power-packed constituency and what ‘change’ means for an electorate which has been unquestionably loyal to the Nehru-Gandhi family since the very first general elections when it elected Indira Gandhi’s husband Feroze Gandhi in 1952.
For a constituency whose representative pulls the strings of national politics, gauging the degree of her accessibility among her electorate and what how much the constituency benefits from it, invites contradictory views.
“K.L.Sharma is the representative of the Member of Parliament here when Sonia Gandhi is not around but is one hell of corrupt person. All grievances are supposed to go through him to Soniaji but we have found that our genuine problems go unheard. There is hardly any electricity here. There is a lot chain-snatching an eve-teasing. Who will believe that Sonia Gandhi’s constituency has only 12 hours of electricity and that the women are not safe here?” laments Sunil Motiramani, a dry fruit merchant yesterday.
On women issues the female population of Raebareli, doesn’t mince words. “As woman I found myself safe here. As you can see it is late night and we are roaming freely here,” say Saumya and Rabab who are school friends and often hangout in the town till it goes to sleep.
“Women of this city are safe here but the credit does not go to Sonia Gandhi but to Akhilesh Singh, the independent MLA from here. He takes care of all the matters public safety. There is a saying in Raebareli, nobody other than Sonia Gandhi can win Lok Sabha and none except Akhilesh Singh win the assembly seat from here. Even if Priyanka contest this seat against him, we will regretfully have to vote her out,” says Sumit Gupta (35), a general store owner.
“If you talk about education, I am myself a C.A. but see where I am right now. I wanted to be at ICAI but got no help from here. This is the condition all over. But still she will win because that is the always best hope we have got but her graph of winning margin is falling every five years.” adds Sumit.
However, others refute his claims. “Whoever saying that we get only 12 hours electricity is lying. Even villages here get 18-20 hours of power and for us it is 22-23 hours. Sometimes the power trip for a few minutes but that is it,” says Puneet Kumar who owns a cloth shop.
When Congress campaigns for Sonia Gandhi in Raebareli, it never announces the party or her candidature and the loudspeakers fixed to the party campaign vehicle blares only what Congress as a party has done in the past five years.
“The government gave you Right to Information, Right to Food, Right to Education and homes through Indira Awas Yojna. The government is committed for you and your growth,” informs one campaign vehicle as it passes from the main market area.
The constituency has 30-35% Muslims who traditionally vote for her. K.L. Sharma her representative in the constituency keeps a check on the floating upper caste Hindu votes. He also organizes weekly hearings of people’s grievances at Pandey Kothi.
“I agree that growth is slow but it is certain. We have got AIIMS Outdoor Patient Department operational now. The rail coach factory ensures jobs for many. More institutions are coming up our way. Only a blind can say that development is not here,” says Mohammad Aqeel Ansari who was at Captain Saleema area near the Raebareli bus depot.