Hema Malini counts on Modi, but farmers not convinced

Mathura (Uttar Pradesh), April 16 (IANS) In the birthplace of Lord Krishna, it’s one’s ‘karma’ that matters. So, Prime Minister Narendra Modi did well to retaliate against Pulwama terror attack — almost all voters agree — and it’s something BJP candidate Hema Malini would sure depend on, on April 18 when Mathura votes in the second phase of polling. Yet, what else would the ‘dream girl’ of yesteryear bet on?

The farmers aren’t too happy and the general impression is that she has not done much for rural areas, where Jats (4.5 lakh) heavily outnumber others. For effect, BJP supporters even project her as a Jat (she is from Tamil Nadu) owing to her marriage with Bollywoood icon Dharmendra. In rural areas, all this has little meaning.

“The government increased the wheat procurement price. But the cost of fertilizer too went up. Everything else relating to farming is under the GST. Diesel cost too is raised. There are more issues, but no one is ready to hear us,” says Jagpal Singh, a farmer from Phenchari village.

The Mathura Lok Sabha constituency is part of Mathura district in Uttar Pradesh and comprises five assembly segments — Chhata, Mant, Goverdhan, Mathura and Baldev — where polling is due in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections on April 18.

In 2014 Lok Sabha elections Hema Malini defeated Rashtriya Lok Dal’s (RLD) Jayant Chaudhary by 3.30 lakh votes. Yogesh Kumar Dwivedi of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) stood third with 1.73 lakh votes.

According to Election Commission 2009 reports, the parliamentary constituency had over 13.40 lakh voters. An unofficial data said the constituency’s current vote bank is around 18 lakh. Besides Jats, there are around 3 lakh Brahmins and as many Thakurs. Agarwal and Muslim voters are estimated around 1.5 lakh each.

Dominent local issues are health, education, roads and agrarian crisis. Many people whom IANS spoke to said the focus is to elect a person who will represent the Central government in taking the country forward, and that they find “no option other than Modi.” For that, they can ignore who the BJP candidate is.

Others say the RLD, an ally of Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party, has an edge as Hema Malini has support base only in the city, not in rural areas which she “ignored” in the last five years. They say ‘Modi magic’ will not help much as most people in the constituency are dependent on farming which she had avoided during her tenure.

Prembir Singh Chawla, Resident Welafare Association chariman Omaxe Intercity in Vrindavan in Mathura where Hema Malini built a house recently, told IANS: “I have been living here for over five years. Hema Malini was elected as an MP from Mathura after I came here. We helped the BJP in winning her last elections, but she has no time for us. Now I don’t support the BJP.”

A real estate businessman, Ram Raghv, said: “Politics is based on good behaviour and faith. In this election, most of the people are voting BJP in the name of Modi because they don’t have a better option”.

Raghav, who also lives in Vrindavan and has projects in Omaxe Intercity, said Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi has changed the scenario in Uttar Pradesh’s politics. “She should have joined politics earlier. Priyanka’s presence will not help the Congress, but the vote percentage of the party would increase,” he said.

(Rajnish Singh can be contacted at rajnish.s@ians.in)



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