KUNDA(PRATAPGARH): The Kunda assembly constituency in Uttar Pradesh’s Pratapgarh is witnessing an electoral fight for the first time after a gap of 30 years as the six time sitting MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh aka Raja Bhaiya is facing his friend turned foe in the form of Samajwadi Party’s candidate, Gulshan Yadav.
Raja Bhaiya, who floated his Jansatta Dal Loktantrik in 2018, is contesting on 18 assembly seats this time in the state and has not announced any pre-poll alliance with any political party.
The New Indian caught up with Raja Bhaiya on his campaign trail in Kunda. As his cavalcade moved along the narrow and dusty lanes of Kunda, people came out of their homes to get a glimpse of their ‘Raja’ and to touch his feet in respect.
“In the last six elections, people of Kunda ensured that opposition leaders lose their deposit,” Raja says responding to a question whether he feels that this time it’s about “selection or election” in Kunda.
Many locals said that Raja Bhaiya stood by them in their tough times and has not let them down. For them government means ‘Sarkar’, which is none other than Raja Bhaiya.
After attending his 11th public meeting around 10 pm, Raja makes even more assertion on his win and direct attack on Samajwadi Party, of which he was party of “There are a lot of contestants from Kunda this elections. But people of Kunda will vote to ensure the tradition of my victory.”
To another question on Samajwadi Party fielding Gulshan Yadav against him for the first time in Kunda, the Lok Jansatta Dal national president said, “In 1993, the Samajwadi Party and its alliance partner Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had also fielded its candidate from here in 1993, 1996 and 2002. This is not something new.”
He, however, refused to comment on Gulshan Yadav, who was considered to be a close aide saying, “I would rather not comment on other candidate from another party. All I would say is that I communicate directly with my voters and people reciprocate. It is not my habit to take names and allege something.”
In the past, Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav had made serious allegations saying people of Kunda have faced injustice for long. Raja Bhaiya refuted his claims with a challenge of his own. “These allegations are laughable. I can already tell you that my party candidate, Saroj, a sitting MLA, will win from this Babaganj assembly seat with a historic margin,” he claims.
Raja Bhaiya’s party is contesting on 18 assembly seats in the elections. “We wanted to contest on more seats but due to Covid pandemic restrictions we could not expand much and we are contesting from 18 seats, where we are best connected with people,” he says
Making it clear that his party has not announced any pre-poll alliance, he shared: “We are prepared to sit in the opposition and we promise to be a strong voice for people. People’s mandate will decide on further course,” he said.
When pointed out about his home ‘Beni Kothi’ having a large lake with crocodiles, he said, “These all are cooked stories. I am going to my home and you can come see yourself (he said in jest).”
For those who do not know, Pratapgarh has a Russia connect. “Elders of Pratapgarh will tell of the love story of Kalakankar’s King, Brajesh Singh, and Stalin’s daughter, Svetlana.”
It is said that Brajesh Singh fell in love with the daughter of world’s strongest man Stalin’s daughter. “This is the beauty of the people of Pratapgarh — that everyone falls in love with us,” he said.
This time around, Raja Bhaiya’s son was rumoured to have helped in campaigning for him in the elections. When asked if he plans to introduce his son into politics so he takes his political mantle further, Raja Bhaiya denied his involvement. “My family is busy attending weddings and other invitations sent to my family in my absence — that I am unable to attend due to my busy schedule.”
The people of Kunda have been appreciative of Raja Bhaiya work. Many claimed that he had their backing. According to them, Raja Bhaiya has helped many poor families get their daughters married and taken care of their children’s education.
Kunda will go to polls on February 27 in the fifth phase. Counting of votes will take place on March 10.
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