AMETHI: The pocket borough of the Gandhi family, Amethi, is set to see an interesting triangular contest where a rape-accused minister Gayatri Prajapati from the Samajwadi Party is contesting against two queens—Garima Singh and Ameeta Singh.
Amethi's original Rani, Garima Singh is the BJP's candidate pitched against Congress's Ameeta Singh, the second Rani of the 'kingdom’.
Gayatri Prajapati is a Mulayam loyalist who has been booked on charges of gang rape and sexual harassment by the Uttar Pradesh police on the directives of the Supreme Court on February 17.
Prajapati won from this constituency for the first time in 2012 elections. Currently embroiled in a gangrape and sexual harassment case, Prajapati has held a number of portfolios as a minister in Akhilesh’s cabinet.
Currently holding the transport ministry, the SP candidate is also named in corruption cases including a mining scam. As part of his campaigns, Prajapati holds meetings in interior villages eulogising chief minister Akhilesh Yadav and the mentioning the development works.
Although the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is campaigning for his candidate, Prajapati, his narrative is dominated by the two queens.
“Jab do raniyan ladti hain to batao kiska phayda hota hai?” (When two queens fight, who stands to gain?), asked Akhilesh Yadav at an election rally in Amethi.
Sanjay Singh married Ameeta, a former badminton champion from Maharashtra, after a disputed divorce with Garima.
Both the Ranis share different corners of the grand Bhupathi Bhawan (the royal palace in Amethi). Ameeta, a two-time former MLA, draws her strength from husband Raja Sanjay Singh while Garima counts on her three children. Son Anant Vikram Singh is managing her campaign.
“People of Amethi always wanted me to step out of the confines of palace even after the discord with Raja Sahab as they wanted to see me taking a definite role,” she says.
The reigning Rani, Ameeta’s candidature has created confusion in the SP-Congress alliance. She has jumped into the fray despite the seat going to the SP candidate Prajapati, who is the sitting MLA. He had trounced Ameeta in the 2012 Assembly elections by a huge margin.
Despite the Congress leadership negotiating hard for the seat, the SP was not prepared to upset its cadre and voters, especially, the most backward castes among whom Prajapati enjoys a noticeable clout. “I am in the field for the alliance. I am with Akhilesh ji,” she claims.
Whatever may be the fate of the alliance in Amethi, it has certainly left the voters confused who stand divided between Ameeta Singh and Prajapati, much against the essence of the pact and clearly to the advantage of Garima Singh.
CM Akhilesh Yadav has already held a rally in support of Prajapati but he stopped short of taking his name. Instead, the CM sought vote for the ‘cycle’.
Not only Amethi (Sadar), but Gauriganj in Amethi district is another constituency where the SP-Congress alliance seems to have fallen flat. This seat is gearing up for a four-cornered fight as both the Congress and the SP have fielded their candidates with the BJP’s Umashankar Pandey and BSP’s Vijay Kishore Tripathi also in fray.
While Rakesh Singh, the sitting SP MLA, is putting in everything to save the seat for his party, Congress’s Mohammad Naeem is trying to rectify his previous mistakes and snatch the seat from the SP candidate. Naeem had lost 2012 election from here with a margin of 503 votes.