Uttar Pradesh Polls: Bulandshahr Diary

Jats will vote for Charan Singh; UP’s next Education Minister; watch out for Guddu Pandit, ‘phoolwale ne humein fool banaya’ and more anecdotes from RLD rallies

Photo by Vishwa Deepak/National Herald
Photo by Vishwa Deepak/National Herald


Jats will vote for Charan Singh

While Jats here seem to be rallying round the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), not all of them are happy with RLD leader and former MP from Mathura, Jayant Chaudhary. “He lives in Delhi, rarely visits his constituency and has little or no local connect,” scoffed a wizened Jat at an RLD rally in Sikandrabad,, Bulandshahr in western Uttar Pradesh. The grandson of Chaudhary Charan Singh, added another RLD supporter, was unlikely to be able to name even five local leaders of his own party. But both would be voting for RLD, they asserted. “What is a Chaudhary minus Charan Singh? We will be voting for Chaudhary Charan Singh’s party or else we will be finished politically,” was their parting shot. Chaudhary Charan Singh may have passed away in 1987 but 30 years after his death, the legacy is still intact.

PM, the ‘phoolwala’

The Jats seem reluctant to even take the name of the Bharatiya Janata Party. They refer to it as the ‘Phool wali party’ (the party with the flower). Similarly the Prime Minister is a ‘Phoolwala’ here, not a Chaiwala ! Young Jats laughed and showed off their familiarity with English by saying, ‘Phoolwale ne humein fool banaya’. A young farmer driving his tractor with the trailer full of RLD supporters from his village endorsed the sentiment. “We have got neither jobs nor reservation. We feel cheated.”

Photo by Vishwa Deepak/National Herald
Photo by Vishwa Deepak/National Herald
Former PM Chaudhary Charan Singh adorns RLD election posters; 30 years after his death, Jats in Bulandshahr still ask “what is a Chaudhary minus Charan Singh”?

Learning to give a speech

While local leaders tried to restrain the boisterous crowd and keep them engaged with their own version of political speech, RLD’s candidate from Sikandrabad, Asha Yadav, was making a desperate effort to read aloud her prepared speech in the right accent. Her nervousness showed and her voice even drowned the speeches being blared on loudspeakers. Her husband, Harindra Yadav, was impatiently instructing her to speak in ‘Shuddh Hindi’ and drop her Jat accent. The couple, we are told, have taken turns to head the local Zila Parishad. “When she was the chairperson, he was a member and now that he is the chairman, she is a member” was how a supporter described their importance.

The next Education Minister

The husband of Asha Yadav however gave up efforts to change his wife’s accent. He had too many things to supervise. He therefore summoned one of his supporters, an elderly person with a saintly look, and asked him to do the ‘needful’. But unlike her husband, the old faithful was impressed with her Hindi and solemnly declared that she would be the next Education Minister of Uttar Pradesh. Asked who would be the chief minister, he chuckled and admitted that he did not have the answer. But Asha Yadav, he insisted, had ‘Raaj Yog’ and was bound to become the Education Minister.

Who is the candidate?

Even local RLD leaders invited to keep the crowd engaged seemed to be clueless about the party candidate. They seemed to have assumed that since Harendra Yadav was supervising everything, he was really the candidate. They dutifully kept asking the crowd to vote for him. Eventually someone appears to have advised Harendra Yadav to set the record straight as he grabbed the mike and declared that it was his wife who was contesting the election.

Photo by Vishwa Deepak/National Herald
Photo by Vishwa Deepak/National Herald
Supporters at the RLD rally in Bulandshahr refer to BJP as the ‘Phool wali party’ and PM Modi as ‘Phoolwala’, not Chaiwala

Play on Charan Singh’s life

It was in a way moving to see the crowd responding to a play on the life of Charan Singh. A group of young men and women clad in green kurta and blue jeans provided the relief in form of the play which perked up the crowd. It did not come as a surprise when the play ended with the death of the leader but not before he could declare his last wish. Predictably it was to see his son Ajit Singh as his political successor. Quite a few elderly Jats could be seen wiping their moist eyes.

Watch out for Guddu Pandit

He has several claims to fame besides having defeated former chief minister Kalyan Singh’s son Rajveer in an election. Guddu Pandit, MLA from Dibai in Bulandshahr, is said to have started his political career as the driver of former SP strongman Amarmani Tripathi, who is serving a jail sentence for killing his paramour Madhumita. Pandit was first with the BSP in 2007 before moving to the SP. He tried hard to get a BJP ticket this time before securing ticket from RLD for both himself and his brother Mukesh. While people kept him at arm’s length, they rationalised that Pandit must have begged and wept before Ajit Singh before the kind-hearted Jat leader wilted and gave in to his demand!

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