Baraulia, Sultanpur: Rahul Gandhi’s constituency, which has been a Congress bastion 44 of the 47 years that it has existed, houses a tiny cluster of villages that swear by the BJP. And have done so for more than two decades.
About 10 kilometers away from the town of Gauriganj, tucked away in a corner of the Amethi Lok Sabha constituency, is Baraulia. If Baraulia had its way, Smriti Irani – the BJP candidate from Amethi – would smile her way into the parliament.
During a walk through Baraulia, one is greeted with saffron caps that have ‘Ab ki baar Modi sarkaar’ written on them. Villagers ride cycles that have tiny plastic BJP flags stuck to the handles. The elders in the village who sit around on the threshold of their houses openly proclaim their support for the BJP.
In 1977, when Sanjay Gandhi imposed the compulsory sterilization programme to limit population, these villages decided to vote for the Jan Sangh. They never reverted to the Congress. “Name one Congress leader who proved his worth after that. Why should we vote for them?” questions Ram Kisan.
Many villagers in Baraulia still remember reading about the JP movement that erupted in Bihar in the mid-1970s against misrule and corruption of the Indira Gandhi regime. Some were young and were influenced deeply by it.
So, do they think that their votes would be wasted if the rest of the constituency largely votes for the Congress? “No, we should not change our allegiance just because others have a different preference,” says Shyaam ji, 71, knowing fully well that these dozen or so villages are too few a number to make a marked difference by themselves.
During campaigning for these elections, Rahul Gandhi specially made a visit to Baraulia. Even though his rally was well attended, people here claim that most of those who attended the rally were from neighboring villages that support the Congress. “Rahul came, blamed the Samajwadi Party for not having done enough in our villages and went away,” says Sita Devi, 39. “What has he done?”
Narendra Modi’s fiery speeches on the 5th of May in neighbouring Gauriganj have boosted their spirits further. Several people from Baraulia made the trip to listen to him. They beam as they speak about him. “I am glad Modi ji came to speak to us. He called Smriti Irani his sister. She must be good,” says Sita Devi.
The BJP cadre on the ground have been trying hard to influence lower caste voters in Amethi. However, they don’t have to work hard in Baraulia. One-third of the population in Baraulia are Dalits and they willingly support the BJP. They say they are Hindu first and the caste equations come in later. The lure could be more than just ideology. The BJP is reported to have distributed free cycles, oil and sugar to households that have substantial voter count.
Whether it is material sops or an ideological pull, people of Barauli can give the Congress sleepless nights.
Published in: FirstPost
Published on: May 7, 2014