Jaidpur (Barabanki): Even as polling for the fifth phase for crucial Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly elections is underway, Tanuj Punia, son of senior Congress leader PL Punia and Jaidpur candidate declared that he would emerge victorious given the anti-incumbency against ruling BJP and the Samajwadi Party sitting MLA.
Punia’s confidence is based on calculations that consider factors such as the Mayawati-led BSP being nowhere in the fight and the people’s anger against the ruling BJP and the Samajwadi Party.
Speaking to The New Indian about the issues that concern his assembly seat, which is just 45 kilometers from Lucknow, Tanuj said, “Issues have always been the same for the Congress be it the issues of farmers, unemployment, crops, the right rate for the fertilisers, waters in canals, peppermint oil issue.”
According to him, Jaidpur farmers cultivate peppermint but they don’t fetch proper rates for the produce. “During the Congress rule, the farmers used to get Rs 1,500 to Rs 1,600 per litre. But in the last four and half years, the rate has not risen above Rs 1,000. So farmers’ issue is predominant in Barabanki,” he asserted.
He also highlighted the issues of employment among the youths and said that there are no industries in the area, be it crop or agro-based industries.
“A number of people are competing for police, paramilitary, or army jobs. For that, they have to appear for physical tests, but as things go they don’t have proper grounds for training,” he said, adding that if voted to power, he would get the grounds in place in every village or panchayats.
He also cited the issue of high electricity rates for the handloom and power loom sector, saying the weaver community is facing the heat of the same.
Hopeful of the Congress making a comeback in the state, Tanuj said, “We will bounce back, especially because of Priyanka Gandhi Vadra, who has worked hard on the ground and working towards the issues.”
The Congress leader said that in Uttar Pradesh, politics revolves around caste and religion, and the BJP, Samajwadi Party, and the BSP all tend to fight on the same.
“While the Congress is trying to bring back the elections on the real issues of employment, health and education and others,” Tanuj said, adding, these main issues have been long neglected.
Attacking the BJP, the Samajwadi Party, and the BSP, he said, “In the name of power, all BJP does is talk about temples and mosques. For SP, it’s caste, and the same goes for the BSP. Congress is the only party that is trying to bring back the real issues.”
An IITian from Roorkee, Tanuj quit his job to enter politics and chose to follow the footprints of his father, who too left his government job. “I was in a job in Euflex Noida. My father was also a bureaucrat and he used to help people. People would queue up outside our home every morning as they reached out to us to help them seek redressal to their problems,” he said.
“My father would get up at 6 am to lend an ear to the problems of people and then go to the office. He would again help people once back from work,” he recounted.
“I also like to meet people and help them. I wish to lend the same helping hand to those who need it. This is exactly the reason why I have been working among the people despite losing the elections five years ago,” he said.
Tanuj made his political debut in the 2017 assembly elections, albeit unsuccessfully. He had got over 81,000 votes and finished second.
When asked about the number of expected votes, he said, “There is a lot of anti-incumbency in Jaidpur as the SP MLA has not done anything (after winning the by-elections in 2019) and even the BJP has not done any work.”
He said, “BSP is not in the fight and nowhere in the picture here. There is also anger against the BJP over the three contentious farm laws and several other issues. So whoever is angry with BJP, SP and BSP are coming to the Congress. So both the BJP and SP are losing day by day and Congress is winning day by day.”
Polling for the fifth phase in Uttar Pradesh is underway and counting votes will take place on March 10.