New Delhi: If there is one place where brand Modi competed with another factor, it was Amethi. It was also riding on the "sympathy wave" for Garima Singh, the BJP candidate and "estranged wife" of Sanjay Singh, the Congress leader and the Raja of Amethi.
Garima was seen as someone who had been wronged and “needed to get justice through vote”. It helped that she was picked against Congress' Ameeta Singh for whom the Raja himself campaigned.
Ameeta lost the last Assembly election to SP’s Gayatri Prajapati and this time to the first rani. With Garima's victory, BJP made inroads into Rahul Gandhi's Lok Sabha constituency.
The royal battle that began between Sanjay Singh and his first wife Garima brought a personal touch to the political. Anyone who attended the BJP candidate's campaign was witness to the sympathy wave in her favour. The people cried on her being “fraudulently divorced” and “removed from Amethi".
"Every time Garima spoke in public, listeners started crying. In one of my sabhas with her, I had to wait for the emotions to subside. It was only when people gained control of their emotions that I went to address them. Women were moved by her story of injustice," said Govind Singh Chauhan, district spokesperson of BJP.
He added, "The family drama was part of the campaign – she was out for decades and lived with no help from her husband. All this touched a personal chord with villagers." The support for her had been building up since 2014, when villagers fought for the real rani to claim her presence in the famed Bhupati Bhawan. That year, villagers protested which lead to firing and a policeman died in that incident.
"The 2014 incident cemented her ties with the locals. She was reclusive but when she appeared in public, there was enthusiasm among people. They wanted to know who their rani was and how she fought the personal battles," said Krishna Prasad Singh, a local advocate. "People stood in support of Garima and that translated into votes for her," he said.
The factor was considered by BJP leaders who preferred to give the first rani the ticket instead of any of her family members - her son Anant Vikram Singh, daughters Mahima and Shaivya, besides her grandson and Anant's wife Shambhavi were part of the campaigns.
"Mat se nyaya denge (We will give her justice through our vote)," said Lal, a farmer in Amethi. He was not the only one to think that it is upon him to make the real rani get her due.
Keshav Prasad, an advocate said, "I have seen hundreds of women crying in her sabhas and campaigns. In Amethi there is one factor bigger than Modi: sympathy for Garima. The party, too, realised the potential of this story to translate into votes and gave a novice in politics the BJP ticket."
Sudhanshu Shukla, general secretary BJP in Amethi, said that in Amethi, Modi wave worked and so did the sympathy wave: "Women have supported her – they know if she does not win she will be ousted from Amethi. That will be un-nyaya (injustice) and people don't want that to happen. They have the sentiment that she was fraudulently divorced and according to Hindu Marriage, he cannot have another wife while the first one is still there."
Both wives of Sanjay Singh mentioned his name as spouse in their affidavit.
The narration of the family saga was marked by the appeals for saving "Bharat ki sanskriti by voting for Garima. The narrative was woven with political campaigns, signing off, Prasad said, "It is running like a film script - justice for nayika (heroine) while dand (punishment) for khalanayika (villainess)."