If the mood across the villages and sectors in Gautam Buddh Nagar constituency is anything to go by, the richest candidate and incumbent MP, Mahesh Sharma, Union Culture Minister, has little to be optimistic about the outcome on May 23. The constituency saw 60.15 per cent of its voters cast their ballot.
National Herald had earlier reported on voter sentiment against the incumbent MP and government owing to the government’s poor handling of the farm sector. Majority of the voters here come from 120-odd villages and mainly depend on agriculture and animal husbandry for their livelihood. More than 60 had not even allowed Sharma to enter their premises and campaign. It seems the anger has found its expression in the ballot.
National Herald went to the villages of Bhangel, Barola and Chalera and found an overwhelming number of people queuing up at the booths.
A Gujjar from Bhangel told National Herald on the condition of anonymity, “Gujjars are voting en masse for Satveer Nagar of BSP throughout the district. Yatavs are also doing the same. He will win hands down.”
The refrain was quite similar in Chalera and Barola.
While the turnout in the sectors was much less than that in the villages, it looked visibly higher than that in 2014 and 2017. This constituency had voted wholly for Mahesh Sharma in the last Lok Sabha election. But even here, Sharma has little to be happy about. Abhishek Jha, a resident of Sector 50 and an export house executive, said, “Even in my society, the response to the BJP is unusually muted this time as compared to 2014. It had reached its peak during the 2017 UP Assembly polls but went through a steady decline after that. It picked up a bit in the aftermath of the IAF strikes in Balakot but the BJP manifesto was a big let-down. Also, BJP’s top leaders have been going on and on about Hindu-Muslim and Pakistan. People are not getting convinced easily anymore.”
His friend, Naveen Bansal, a banker, nods, while adding, “There are no jobs. There have been few lateral movements across sectors. Increments have been low while crucial expenses like fuel and LPG have gone up. Not everyone is content with the government’s nationalistic stance alone. There has to be a road forward. Also, I think people saw that very few of the 2014 promises were fulfilled.”
This is alarming for Sharma who has been frantically campaigning in the sectors, calling upon people to come out in larger numbers and vote. Traditionally, the sectors have a much lower turnout rate than the villages. This certainly does not look good for Sharma.