Big guns missing in Maneka Gandhi’s low-decibel campaign in Sultanpur

Sultanpur (UP), May 23 (PTI) In Sultanpur, near high-profile Amethi, BJP’s Maneka Gandhi appears to be fighting a lone battle to retain her parliamentary seat with few top leaders of her party canvassing for her and no opposition biggies campaigning against her either.

Sultanpur goes to polls on May 25 and Thursday is the last day of campaigning.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath addressed a public meeting in support of Maneka Gandhi in Qazipur on Wednesday.

Her son Varun Gandhi, who has been benched by the BJP in this Lok Sabha election, is expected to join her for campaigning on Thursday.

Her nephew Rahul Gandhi and niece Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have visited Uttar Pradesh multiple times to canvass for INDIA bloc candidates but have not campaigned against her.

Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati campaigned in Sultanpur in support of her party’s candidate Udraj Verma, an OBC, on Wednesday and attacked both the BJP and the Congress.

Despite little help from the BJP’s big guns, Maneka Gandhi is confident of steering her party to victory in Sultanpur, which was represented by Varun Gandhi before 2019.

In an interview with PTI, the sitting Sultanpur MP asserted that her victory margin this time will be bigger than last time.

In the 2019 general elections, Maneka Gandhi had won the Sultanpur seat by a margin of 14,000 seats.

The BJP is confident of gaining around 2 lakh votes of the fishermen community in Sultanpur with their leader and Nishad Party chief Sanjay Nishad holding a ministerial berth in the Uttar Pradesh cabinet.

Maneka Gandhi said neither the Ram temple nor the denial of a ticket to her son is an election issue in her constituency as people are more concerned about their problems and their MP’s response to their concerns.

She said the people of her constituency are happy about the opening of the Ram temple in Ayodhya but “it is not an issue in the polls here”.

“I don’t look at the people coming to me with their needs on the lines of caste or religion. Everybody in the constituency belongs to me and I hold the responsibility of their better future,” the eight-time Lok Sabha MP said.

Asked about the BJP’s call to wipe out the Nehru-Gandhi family from Rae Bareli, the 67-year-old Sultanpur MP said, “I have no comments to make… I am concerned about the problems of my constituency and the people here.”

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi is in the fray from Rae Bareli.

BJP district president R K Verma said the people here have a positive response to the “Modi-Yogi” combination.

Toilets have been built for people and they have received houses and free foodgrains under different government schemes, he said.

“Maneka ji helps whosoever comes to her for assistance irrespective of one’s caste or religion,” he said.

Kamaruddin Alam, a local resident, agrees. “She doesn’t discriminate against anyone coming to her with their problems.”

Maneka Gandhi has also campaigned in Muslim areas.

Another local resident, Manoj Kumar, said Maneka Gandhi is a big leader and gets the problems of her constituency solved with the help of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and other central ministers.

Shyam Chand Srivastava of Qazipur town area says anybody can approach Maneka Gandhi with their problems, irrespective of the fact whether the person is her voter or not.

Ram Bihari in Sultanpur Bazar describes Maneka Gandhi as a “kind lady”.

Besides Maneka Gandhi and BSP’s Verma, Samajwadi Party’s (SP) Ram Bhual Nishad is also in the fray from Sultanpur.

Verma threatens to divide the OBC votes of the SP.

SP spokesperson Anoop Sanda said Maneka is not a permanent resident of Sultanpur. She comes from Delhi and stays here for a week or 10 days every month.

“On normal days, she doesn’t go beyond 5 km of the town,” he said, adding that the people look at SP chief Akhilesh Yadav positively.

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