Congress sweats as SP pulls plug on Amethi, Rae Bareli
The ruling Samajwadi Party in UP seems to be heading for round two of confrontation with the Congress, as it has resorted to power outages in the ‘VVIP constituencies’ of Rae Bareli and Amethi represented by Congress chief Sonia Gandhi and party vice-president Rahul Gandhi.
At a time when the mercury has risen to above 350C, abrupt breaks in power supply in the two districts have triggered a wave of anger from local-level cadre, which threatens the already shaky relationship between the Congress and SP.
The power crisis is not new in the state, where not a single new power plant has come up in the past two decades, except Roza in Shahjehanpur, and the state has had to sustain by purchasing electricity.
Barring some districts that have 24-hour power supply, like Etawah, the native place of the first family of the ruling party headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav, Kannauj, represented by Dimple, wife of Chief Minister, Akhilesh Yadav, Mainpuri, the Lok Sabha constituency of Mulayam, and Rampur, represented by senior cabinet minister Mohammad Azam Khan, people are used to receiving just six to eight hours of power a day. A PIL has also been filed in the High Court pointing out these double standards in allocation of power, and the court has asked the Uttar Pradesh government to reply in this regard.
Apart from other complaints against the Congress party and its representatives, the acute power crisis was a major factor in the complete annihilation of Congress candidates from the two VVIP constituencies in the 2012 Assembly elections, where out of 10 seats the Congress lost eight to its political opponents, mainly the Samajwadi Party.
Amidst groundswell of resentment among the local people over the power crisis crippling their businesses and domestic lives everyday, Sonia had personally met Mulayam before the winter session of Parliament and requested him to ensure regular power supply to her constituency.
Immediately, Mulayam had called Akhilesh from Delhi and asked him to ensure power in the two constituencies of Rae Bareli and Amethi, after which there was widespread relief.
But since then, much has happened — the verbal duel between Union Steel minister Beni Prasad Verma and Mulayam had brought the relationship between the two parties to a breaking point, though at the last minute, both parties declared a ceasefire.
The damage, however, had already been done. Snapping of power lines to Rae Bareli and Amethi is being seen as a revival of a fresh round of attack by the SP on the Congress. Although the party has announced that it would not field candidates against Sonia and Rahul, Mulayam’s flip-flop record means the option is still open.
It’s no wonder the Congress leadership is sweating. Even the local population refuses to criticise the ruling SP for its situation.
Grudgingly, they say: “What is the point in having an MP who is not able to provide us bijli, sadak, pani (power, roads, water)? We are not bothered about FDI, but daily needs.”