NEW DELHI: The problem with a long-drawn election is that fatigue sets in — the voters get listless, the campaign gets jaded and the ubiquitous poll-watchers get impatient, if not a tad bored.
The modest 57 per cent voter turn-out in the fifth phase of UP polls seems to indicate all of the above.
For Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi this was the testing phase though. The Assembly segments of his parliamentary constituency, Amethi, went to polls on Monday.
By far, Amethi saw the strangest contest. Not because it is the Congress scion’s backyard but because his party’s candidate, Chhoti ‘Rani’ of Amethi royal family, Amita Singh, is taking on Badi Rani Garima Singh. The latter is fighting on a BJP ticket. Both are wives of the erstwhile king of Amethi, Sanjay Singh — at present a Congress Rajya Sabha MP.
Well, the hapless voters were not even sure whether the contest between Amita and Garima was really for the Amethi Assembly seat or for wresting control over the 500-room Bhupati Bhavan — the royal palace. As the family laundry got washed in public, both have been claiming to be the ‘real’ Rani of Amethi.
Providing a third angle to the Congress queen vs BJP queen contest, is Samajwadi Party’s controversial ‘Prajapati’ — rape accused Gayatri Prasad. For this seat, the new found allies, Congress and SP are pitted against each other. Making it abundance of choice, BSP put up Ramji Maurya. But the voters of Amethi, it seems, kept the caste equations at bay and cast the votes mostly to decide who should be their real Rani.
Ayodhya in Faizabad district is the other key constituency that polled on Monday. As always, Lord Ram resurfaced during the elections as a campaign point in Ayodhya, desperately seeking some facelift. It’s traditionally a BJP stronghold, but SP wrested it in 2012. Meanwhile, the poll rhetoric which has hit an all-time low, remained so as the campaign for the last two phases continued.
What the political opponents had to say about each other, have already been said many times over. So, even as a part of the UP voted, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, UP CM Akhilesh Yadav, Rahul Gandhi and BSP chief Mayawati took tired and tried pot shots at each other.
Modi accused the SP and the BSP for plotting for a hung Assembly, as they fear BJP is surging ahead. The poll analysts immediately saw in it an admission that BJP was not surging and he was preparing the ground for it. Rahul continued his tirade against Modi, accusing him of “hollow” speech. In the Akhilesh-Rahul rally in Gorakhpur — a Yogi Adityanath stronghold — the two claimed, the next government would be theirs.