Rudrapur (Deoria, UP): From '27 Saal UP Behaal' to 'UP Ko Yeh Saath Pasand Hai’, Congress' politics has undergone a dramatic change over the past few months in poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.
The party, which started its mega campaign for UP elections in 2016 with a clarion call for change, is now the junior alliance partner with the very same Samajwadi Party.
As it heads to the polls now, News18 visited Rudrapur constituency, which is at present represented by Congress MLA Akhilesh Pratap Singh. The Congress retained the constituency during seat-sharing talks with the SP and Singh is the alliance’s joint candidate.
Despite serious strains — which the alliance has dubbed as ‘friendly contests’ — elsewhere, Rudrapur has been quite receptive of the tie-up. Representing the bonhomie, Akhilesh Pratap Singh dons an SP and a Congress gamchha around his neck.
“The two gamchhas indicate the spirit of the alliance. This alliance will teach BJP and Narendra Modi a lesson in this election,” he says.
Unlike in others constituencies, where candidates have refused to withdraw nominations in favour of the alliance partner, leaders of both parties are in sync here.
Pradeep Yadav, the Samajwadi Party leader who was initially declared party candidate from the constituency, holds no grudge. Campaigning with Akhilesh Pratap, he says, “Akhilesh Pratap has done a commendable job as the MLA. We, therefore, have no issues endorsing him.”
“Since Akhilesh Yadav ji and Rahul Gandhi ji have come together, Rudrapur has the responsibility to ensure the alliance's success,” he adds.
Not just the alliance leaders and supporters, the alliance seems to have found favour with the first-time voters of the constituency too. News18 met some of them at Satasi Inter College, where Rahul Gandhi had held his ‘khaat sabha’. Taking time off playing cricket, they said the Congress was their choice as they believe the party delivered in five years.
As Shahzad Husaain, a local shopkeeper, puts it: “dushmani se dosti behtar hoti hai (friendship trumps enmity)”.