In Uttar Pradesh’s Loni, polarisation looms large amidst Ram rajya Vs ‘goonda raj’ debate
While BJP candidate from Loni Nand Kishore Gurjar says he has banned meat, and crime has come down in the constituency, RLD’s Madan Bhaiya promises communal harmony and development
Loni is more than 600 kilometres away from Ram Janmabhoomi Ayodhya in Uttar Pradesh but assurance of building Ram Rajya and slogans of ‘Jai Shri Ram’ reverberate in the Assembly constituency.
BJP’s sitting MLA, and the candidate from Loni, Nand Kishore Gurjar, says he has built Ram Rajya in the constituency where butcher shops have been closed, crime has come down to a naught, Muslims rejoiced at the Ram Temple verdict, no protests took place over the Citizen Amendments Act (CAA) and cows are safe.
“What is Ram Rajya pitted against? Goondaism,” asks the BJP MLA.
When Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath accused the Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal (SP-RLD) combine of giving tickets to mafias and goons, Loni constituency was on top of his list. Sensitive and once considered notorious for criminal activities, the alliance has fielded RLD leader Madan Bhaiya, a strongman from Loni.
Once considered a stronghold of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), the real contest this time, people believe, is between BJP’s Nand Kishore Gurjar and RLD’s Madan Bhaiya. Having a significant Muslim population coupled with BJP MLA’s religious statements, RLD is trying to consolidate the minority votes in the constituency.
However, Hindu votes should not consolidate. RLD’s Bhaiya promises development and communal harmony. There are more than 1.60 lakh Muslim voters in the constituency, says Gurjar.
“In the last five years, BJP has created rivalry among communities and that is the only issue left to be discussed especially in Loni. Our issue is to resolve this and to create communal harmony and that people should be brought to mainstream development,” says the RLD candidate.
On Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath calling him a “mafia”, Bhaiya says he has just two cases registered against him in his election affidavit, which too are political in nature.
“In my election affidavit, I have two cases on me. One is related to elections where the court has given a stay. Second is about polls and the charge sheet is not done yet. There are many who have dozens of such cases against them. What do you call them if you call me mafia?” Bhaiya justifies.
Gurjar further says Loni is built on Ram Rajya with no crimes reported. The BJP MLA while listing the development work done in his constituency promises to turn Loni into “London in the future”.
The BJP MLA says when demonstrations were taking place against CAA across the country, his constituency saw no such protests.
How did he achieve this? “I have told all Muslims that their ancestors were Hindus. It is in Loni that majority of Muslims celebrated Ram temple verdict. Cows are safe in my constituency. And I have closed all meat shops. Have you seen meat in Ram Rajya? So, how can they allow meat in here? They can go to Delhi if they want meat. We won’t stop them. We don’t want people to fall sick by consuming meat,” said the MLA.
On meat ban by the BJP candidate, Bhaiya says, “Jab Nizam theek hota hai to log theek ho jaenge. Jo unmadi log hai who theek ho jaenge. Unka bhasha par niyantran nahi hai. (When a leader is tamed, followers get tamed as well. The frenzied crowd will be tamed. They don’t have control on what they say).”
The Election Commission has recently sent a notice to Gurjar for making inflammatory remarks — ‘Na Ali, Na Bahubali, Sirf Bajrangbali’. Gurjar, however, says he stands by his comments.
Bhaiya is unflinched by Gurjar’s comments on him and decides to not say on Akhilesh Yadav’s Jinnah comment. “Unke baare mein kya kehna jo Election Commission ka palan nahi karte. Yadav ji ne aisa kahan hamein pata nahi (what do I say about those who don’t even abide by the Election Commission’s directions. I have no knowledge of Yadav saying it).
Gurjar has an explanation. “By Ali, I meant Mohammed Ali Jinnah. I have submitted my reply and how can anyone defend Jinnah who had got lakhs of Hindus murdered, women raped, nation was divided. And the same party that believes in Jinnah has given ticket to a Bahubali (Madan Bhaiya) and Bajrang Bali will destroy them all,” says the BJP candidate.
He says Akhilesh’s act of releasing the “terrorists” brought down SP to 48 and that it will pay dearly for Jinnah’s remark as they will get only 8 seats this time. Loni is slated for polling in the first phase of elections that will take place on 10 February. Uttar Pradesh will go to polls in seven phases for 403 Assembly constituencies.
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