Home Minister avoids Noida as UP Phase 1 campaign closes
Rajnath Singh has avoided campaigning for his son Pankaj Singh in Noida, which goes to polls on February 11. Reasons speculated range from superstition to his desire to occupy the high moral ground
Tongues have been wagging over Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh’s decision not to campaign for his son Pankaj, who is contesting in his first election for the Uttar Pradesh assembly from NOIDA (New Okhla Industrial Development Area) on the outskirts of Delhi.
While Rajnath Singh has campaigned extensively across Uttar Pradesh, he scrupulously avoided NOIDA. Even when he addressed a rally at Bisadha in the Dadri constituency in the same Gautam Buddh Nagar district, he avoided campaigning for his son.
A postgraduate in management from Amity University, Noida, the polling on Saturday is an acid test for Pankaj Singh (38), who has been active in politics since 2002.
While Rajnath Singh’s camp followers are attributing it to ‘political morality’ and a deliberate signal that he is above playing the dynastic card and can thus occupy the moral high ground, there are several other theories doing the rounds, the most common being the superstitious belief that politicians holding office lose the office if they attend official functions in Noida.
Even when Rajnath Singh was Chief Minister of the state in 2001, he did not go to inaugurate Noida Toll Bridge, completing the formalities from the Delhi side.
The superstition grew following several chief ministers including Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati losing office soon after visiting Noida. And not just Rajnath Singh but the UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav has also avoided visiting the area, before and during the campaign for the first phase of polling , which came to an end on Thursday.
The most popular explanation is that senior BJP leaders including Rajnath Singh skipped Noida because they feared a backlash from people on notebandi (demonetisation). A senior journalist posted on Facebook “leaders from BJP are avoiding campaigning in Noida because they fear a counter blast, specially from women. In Noida, ATMs still do not dispense cash. In such conditions leaders, do not have the courage to face voters.”
But Rajnath Singh’s detractors, and there are many in the BJP itself, have been busy speculating on various other factors that may have prompted his decision.
- The most popular explanation is that senior BJP leaders including Rajnath Singh skipped Noida because they feared a backlash from people on notebandi (demonetisation). A senior journalist posted on Facebook “leaders from BJP are avoiding campaigning in Noida because they fear a counter blast, specially from women. In Noida, ATMs still do not dispense cash. In such conditions leaders, do not have the courage to face voters.”
- Yet another explanation is that Rajnath Singh is sure of his son’s victory and does not feel the need to campaign for him. People close to him and BJP insiders claim that Rajnath Singh has outsourced the campaign to Union Culture minister Mahesh Sharma, who runs a network of hospitals in the area and hails from Noida. It is now the responsibility of Sharma to ensure the victory of Pankaj Singh, they say.
- Noida has a large urban population and is deemed to be a safe seat for the BJP. Before 2012, Noida was part of Dadri assembly seat, which had a mixed population. However, the rural voters played a decisive role in successive elections. Around three lakh new voters, among them IT, BPO, software and other professionals who have shifted to Noida in the last 5 years are said to be favourably disposed towards the BJP.
His camp holds that Rajnath Singh would certainly like to claim that his son would win the election because of his own hard work. Nothing more, they say, should be read into it.