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Maneka Gandhi remains unaffected by voter apathy, heatwave as she seeks second term in Sultanpur

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Sultanpur (UP), May 21:The heatwave and voter apathy do not affect BJP leader Maneka Gandhi, who is seeking her ninth term in Parliament.

Maneka Gandhi won the Sultanpur Lok Sabha constituency in 2019 by a margin of about 14,000 votes.

This time around, the BJP and Maneka Gandhi’s goal is to increase the victory margin and solidify their hold over Sultanpur.

Maneka Gandhi is aggressively campaigning across Sultanpur, addressing anywhere between 25 to 30 public events daily.

She does not respond to attacks by her opponents and her campaign focusses mostly on the work done over the last five years.

Maneka Gandhi even refrains from talking too much about Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath and their governments.

Praveen Mishra, General Secretary of the BJP in Sultanpur city, says “After getting elected, she has visited each village twice. She would even drive down during Covid. Every person wants to speak to the MP or MLA to vent their grievances. Out of the 18 lakh-odd electorate, she has spoken to about 13 lakh voters in the last five years. Nearly 80,000 complaints brought to her by the people have been resolved. Even during the elections, she is available to them for two hours every morning.”

Asked about her son Varun Gandhi’s absence from her campaign, Maneka Gandhi says, “He told me that he wanted to come but I told him that things are fine and if needed, I will call him.”

The Opposition INDIA bloc candidate Ram Bhual Nishad and BSP’s Udraj Varma did try to play the caste card in Sultanpur in an attempt to corner the BJP MP but failed because the Gandhi surname does have a casteless character.

Interestingly, Sultanpur is one constituency where the BJP is not going overboard in the election campaign. There is a definite air of confidence about Maneka Gandhi retaining the seat for the second-consecutive time.

She, in fact, faced a tougher fight from Sultanpur in 2019, when the SP and BSP were in an alliance and two local strongmen Sonu and Monu Singh were in the fray.

Political participation by the two brothers had led to Maneka Gandhi winning the seat by a thin margin of 15,000 votes.

However, in this election, the SP-BSP alliance has been replaced by the SP-Congress tie-up which is not such a strong combination.

Also, this time, the politically-influential Singh brothers have decided to stay out of the electoral arena, which has made the seat absolutely safe for the BJP.

The SP’s candidate Nishad is a former minister and he belongs to the Nishad caste, which has approximately 2.5 lakh voters here, but his community is divided over his popularity, rather lack of it.

The BSP has made the fight even more interesting by fielding Udraj Varma who is a Kurmi.

Kurmis constitute a considerable part of the electorate in Sultanpur, but like the Nishads, they, too, have voted for the BJP in recent elections.

Maneka Gandhi is not worried about the caste factor and is banking on her image and the work done since 2019 to stand her in good stead during these elections.

To top it all, the SP and BSP campaigns are largely invisible and Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi have not campaigned against their estranged aunt as yet.

The one major issue in the constituency is of monkeys going on the rampage.

The situation has gotten so bad that some villagers have decided to boycott the polls.

The decision to refrain from voting was announced by the residents of Purva Village of Chandpur Bhojai under the Sadar Assembly constituency of Sultanpur Lok Sabha constituency.

Several people have recently been bitten and attacked by monkeys and several houses have been damaged by them.

However, the officials concerned are wary of taking action since Maneka Gandhi is known to be an animal lover and activist.

It remains to be seen how she settles this matter in her constituency.

–IANS

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