UP elections: Sambhal sitting MLA is choice of many voters despite poor show

Mustaqeem, who lives in Mia Sarai, however, adds that Mehmood is likely to win this time, too, given the deeply polarised atmosphere in the country.
Most voters in Sambhal feel that their constituency has seen no development
Most voters in Sambhal feel that their constituency has seen no development

SAMBHAL (UP): Open drains, filthy bylanes, poorly-stocked government hospitals, two decrepit government colleges and a non-functional railway station— all these bring to mind the often-used term ‘vote-bank’ when one travels through Sambhal.

The Muslim-dominated constituency has elected the same legislator — Iqbal Mehmood of Samajwadi Party — for four consecutive terms. Ideally, this stability should have ensured development in Sambhal but that is clearly not the case.

What’s more surprising is that some voters do acknowledge the lack of any infrastructural development and its abysmal literacy rate (45.51 per cent), which is much lower than the state’s average (67.68 per cent), while also harbouring sympathy for their incumbent MLA.

“There has been no development in Sambhal, not just in the past five years but many decades. The voters of Sambhal are taken for granted,” said retired government employee Mustaqeem Mohammad, 74, summing up the resentment of people on having no development in the area, where Muslims roughly constitute 52% of total population.

Mustaqeem, who lives in Mia Sarai, however, adds that Mehmood is likely to win this time, too, given the deeply polarised atmosphere in the country. Tailor Moosa Khan, 47, who lives in Deepa Sarai echoes Mustaqeem’s sentiments. “The Yogi Adityanath government has targeted Muslims in his tenure, so we have to vote for Mehmood. He has not done any development but he will at least ensure our safety and communalharmony.”

Sambhal, which is going to polls on February 14, is witnessing intense poll campaigns by candidates of BJP, BSP and SP, and a lively fight put up by the candidate from AIMIM, which exhibited its best performance in 2017 in this seat and came quite close to winning it.

In the fray are Mehmood of SP, Nida Ahmad of Congress, Rajesh Singhal of BJP, Shakeel Ahmed Quraishi of BSP and Musheer Tareen of AIMIM.

There are voters in the area for whom better hospitals and good roads have become paramount. Ajay Sagar, 28, points out to the filthy and broken lanes outside his house in Hatim Serai and says, “This is the condition of roads here. If somebody is sick, we do not even have specialist doctors at the hospital here and we are referred to a hospital in faraway Moradabad city.”

Another local, Shekhar Prajapati, 21, who will be voting for the first time, says, “We want good schools, colleges, hospitals and roads in the region but that is not the priority of politicians so we have been electing the best among the worst candidates every election.”

Many sympathetic to incumbent Iqbal Mehmood

Some voters acknowledge the lack of any infrastructural development in this constituency and its abysmal literacy rate (45.51 per cent), which is much lower than the state’s average (67.68 per cent), while also harbouring sympathy for incumbent MLA Iqbal Mehmood of Samajwadi Party, who has won four consecutive terms from here

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