Lucknow: Barely few hours to go to voting for the four phase of assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, Congress candidate from Lucknow central, Sadaf Jafar, said that party general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra chose her to contest from this seat because she is a “fighter”.
Speaking to The New Indian, at her office in the Qaiserbagh area of the city, she said, “Campaigning has been very good and I am hopeful that things will work out.”
While fielding her from the Lucknow central seat, Priyanka Gandhi had reportedly referred to her struggle. Jafar, however, counters it by saying that is not the sole reason. “She gave me the ticket because I am a fighter, not because I struggled,” she said, adding that there are a lot of issues being faced by her assembly constituency and she would like to address them as soon as she is elected.
Jafar, a mother of a 12-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son, said, “Lack of proper drinking water, absence of decent schools for girls and government hospitals are only a few among the many issues that we are dealing with.”
When asked about the anti-CAA protest and her following arrest and posters coming up in the city, the Congress leader said, “Those things are in the past. As of now, I am contesting these elections and focusing only on that.”
Jafar along with several other anti-anti-Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) protesters were arrested on December 19, 2019. She was later released in January 2020.
However, in January itself, the state government put up pictures of about 100 alleged anti-CAA protesters, including Jafar’s, with their names and addresses and a figure representing the damage to public property each had purportedly caused. Jafar was accused of damaging property worth Rs 64 lakh, which was to be recovered from her.
Subsequently, Jafar approached the Allahabad high court, which in February 2020 ordered the posters in her name be pulled down. Those, however, remained in place for several more months. The Supreme Court in January this year also pulled up the UP government over recovery notices to pay damages for destruction caused to public property during protests against the CAA in December 2019, before it had brought a law on this in 2021. The apex court said that they (the posters) were in contravention of guidelines laid down by the court.
Jafar is pitted against BJP’s Rajnish Gupta and Samajwadi Party’s Ravidas Mehrotra, a Khatri, who won from the seat in 2012 but lost in 2017.
Lucknow Central has a large Muslim Sunni population, of around one lakh. Besides, it has around 25,000 Shia Muslims, among whom the BJP has support. Apart from these two groups, there are around 25,000 Yadav voters, and a substantial upper caste population.
The Congress last won from this seat in 1985 assembly elections.