With Chants of 'Bharat Mata ki Jai' and Muslim-Yadav Card, Shahabuddin's Wife Tries Poll Luck for 3rd Time
Unfazed by two losses in the past, Hina Shahab says her first task if she were elected would be to generate employment for the youth of Siwan.
RJD candidate Hina Shahab.
Siwan: Hina Shahab pours tea into an empty tumbler to cool down the thick syrupy concoction before taking the first sip. Clad in a grey hijab, the Rashtriya Janata Dal candidate does not make an electoral speech. Fifteen kilometres from the district headquarters, at Rasoolpur, she meets and greets people at village strongman Ashok Singh’s residence.
This would be her third election from Siwan after her husband and don Mohammad Shahabuddin was convicted and barred from contesting elections in 2007. The RJD fielded Hina Shahab in 2009 and 2014 from here and on both occasions, she lost to Om Prakash Yadav.
“There is a difference this time around. In my first two elections I was new to politics, hardly knew the difference between various levels of local bodies. In the last five years though I have gone out and worked with my workers and people,” she claims.
Shahabuddin is currently lodged in Delhi’s Tihar Jail. The biggest challenge for RJD in managing its Siwan campaign has been the sharp polarisation Shahabuddin’s name evokes in this constituency. So much so that BJP got a Yadav candidate elected from here in 2014.
There have been reports in the media that Hina Shahab in her third attempt at winning Siwan has been ending her speech with chants of ‘Bharat Mata ki Jai’. “What is wrong in that? This is our motherland. We live here and we have been born and brought up here,” she avers.
The move is being seen as an attempt by Hina to try and change her image among the voters as well as aim to optimise support outside the Mulayam Singh Yadav's base.
Her first and foremost task if she were elected would be to generate employment for the youth of Siwan. “We will work to ensure jute and sugar factories in Siwan, which have been shut down are made operational again,” she adds.
RJD’s Muslim-Yadav combination is something Shahabuddin’s wife has been relying on to bolster her prospects. The BJP has left this sitting seat for JD(U), denying ticket to sitting MP Om Prakash Yadav.
Nitish Kumar’s party has fielded Kavita Singh — wife of another don Ajay Singh. Kavita Singh in her campaign is trying to engineer larger Hindu mobilisation.
At a late evening meeting in a village on Siwan-Gopalgunj road she reminds audience of the Balakot strike and seeks votes to make ‘India strong’ under Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s leadership.
“It is because of PM Modi and other leaders in the BJP that our opponents have been forced to say Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” she says. “But Siwan still lives in the shadow of people who have inflicted many atrocities on its residents here” she adds.
On the last day of campaigning, BJP plans to hold an election meeting of UP chief minister Yogi Adityanath at the district headquarters in Siwan.
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