KANPUR/UNNAO: Halfway through the Lucknow-Kanpur road, heaps of small potatoes arrest one’s attention. It’s the Dahi Chowki market of Unnao, a place where local produce is sold. As sellers find a reporter in their midst, the area turns into something like a TV studio. And just like TV debates, ‘panellists’ here are sharply divided.
So, here it’s the BJP vs SP. What about Congress? Unnao is the constituency from where Annu Tandon won in the 2009 general elections, way before the Modi wave swept away everything. What do the residents think about Priyanka Gandhi Vadra’s potential?
Tomato farmer Sunder Lal is not convinced. “What will she do? She is Indira Gandhi’s granddaughter, but not Indira Gandhi. We have seen Manmohan Singh’s rule for 10 years. He did nothing. Here no one—either Priyanka Vadra or Rahul Gandhi—will be able to cast a spell.”
While Lal says he would vote for a strong nation, his fellow trader Rajendra Yadav vouches for SP’s Akhilesh Yadav. In Shuklaganj, about 20 km away, Raju Mishra, a trader, seconds Lal. He brought up Annu Tandon. “Whatever presence Congress has here is because of its candidate Annu Tandon, who has maintained her links with the constituency in the past five years.”
A first-time voter, Anukriti Singh, seems to be smitten by Priyanka’s personality. But she too is not very confident of Priyanka. Neighbouring Kanpur also shows similar trends. Even a traditional Congress supporter like Saud Ahmad, a leather exporter, feels that Priyanka’s appointment is too late.
However, Congress’ sitting MLA from Kanpur Cantt., Sohil Akhtar Ansari believes that Priyanka’s entry is going to change the country’s political landscape forever. “Log is chunav ke baad yeh sonchenge ki akhir Congress ko ho kya gaya (After this election, people will wonder what happened to Congress?).”