Editor's Note: There are known unknowns, unknown knowns and known knowns. And then there’s all that Ajay Singh knows. Firstpost’s executive editor mines his decades-long experience reporting on politics to tell stories from the heartland that even Google can’t unearth.
Literally a stone's throw away from Delhi lies Ghaziabad which used to be the industrial hub of Uttar Pradesh, New Okhla Industrial Development Authority (Noida) was conceived to give fillip to industrial growth in areas which have proximity with Delhi. Few know that the running feud between two titans of Uttar Pradesh — Chaudhary Charan Singh and Chandra Bhanu Gupta — had its genesis in generous allocation of agriculture land to industries in Ghaziabad.
Not long ago Noida was part of the Ghaziabad district. Since sixties, the region has become vice den of political corruption because of its proximity to Delhi and availability of land in the area. Take for instance the numbers of IAS officials who were arraigned for corruption in the recent past. Two senior IAS officers — Neera Yadav and Rajiv Kumar — were jailed on corruption cases. More recently, Yadav Singh emerged as the kingpin of the racket that thrived on discretionary allotment of lands and favours to builders and industrialists.
It is not without reason that the central governments, irrespective of their political colour, use land scams in Noida and Ghaziabad as a leverage to extract bargain either regional players in UP — Samajwadi Party (SP) or Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). There are cases against Yadav Singh which indicts even the Mulayam Singh Yadav family. Similarly Mayawati’s brother Anand is not above the board when it comes to shady deal in the land.
In the ongoing politics, these issues are rarely used as politicians are more busy in covering skeletons in their cupboard. The haphazard development of Noida and Ghaziabad and deteriorating law and order situation seem to have lost in the din of electioneering. Ahilesh’s slogan "kaam bolta hai (my work speaks)" is equally matched by the BJP’s rhetoric as "ab aur nahi sahenge (will not tolerate any longer)". However the BSP is maintaining an intriguing silence.
However, there is an interesting story about Ghaziabad which relates to Atal Bihari Vajpayee. After 1971 war with Pakistan, Vajpayee is attributed to have remarked that Indira Gandhi was like Goddess Durga. Vajpayee subsequently denied many a times and clarified that the comments attributed to him were incorrect. However his clarification did not cut ice as perception is often stronger than reality.
Once LK Advani explained to me the context of the comments and said that after the war, there was a national executive of Bharatiya Jana Sangh (BJS) in Ghaziabad where one of the senior delegates made this remark. Somehow in the press brifing, someone picked it up and attributed to Vajpayee. Despite his several clarifications, he could not correct people’s perception. Later on he decided to live with it.
There is no denying the fact that Ghaziabad and Noida are regions where perceptions matter more than reality. This is the precise reason why the BJP has been attaching so much significance to the area. Similarly the SP-Congress combine and the BSP are equally determined to put up a valiant fight. Since this region goes to poll in the first phase, it might set a trend for rest for the rest of Uttar Pradesh.
Updated Date: Feb 15, 2017 14:38 PM