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regular-article-logo Sunday, 16 June 2024

UP: Kushinagar BJP candidate Vijay Kumar Dubey seeks pardon, banks on PM Modi for votes

'Remember Modiji when you vote on June 1. He has brought respect to India. He has started many welfare schemes. You vote for a leader for the development of the country', the MP said

Piyush Srivastava Kushinagar Published 21.05.24, 06:29 AM
BJP candidate Vijay Kumar Dubey (in grey kurta) at a street meeting in Sidhua village in Kushinagar.

BJP candidate Vijay Kumar Dubey (in grey kurta) at a street meeting in Sidhua village in Kushinagar. Piyush Srivastava

Suraj Prasad Madhesia, 65, says he doesn’t want to vote for the BJP’s Kushinagar candidate but will have to, for Narendra Modi’s sake.

“Who bothers about him (BJP candidate Vijay Kumar Dubey)? But looking at the leader in Delhi (Modi), we have to meet the requirement of 272 MPs (the majority mark in the Lok Sabha) anyhow,” he says in Sidhua Sthan after a rally by Dubey.

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“Dubey is a bad candidate but Narendra Modi as Prime Minister is trying to make India a superpower.”

Local people say a large number Madhesias, a trading community, have business establishments just across the border in Nepal and fear that China will take over the tiny country if India becomes weak. They seem to believe that to remain strong, India needs Modi at the helm.

Ironically, the Opposition has been accusing Modi of weakness against China, saying he has done nothing to recover Indian territory occupied by Beijing since 2020 and is too afraid to acknowledge the incursions or even name China.

Dubey and his aides themselves seem in no doubt about his unpopularity.

Nathuni Prasad Kushwaha, the Samajwadi Party candidate Dubey had defeated in 2019, has joined the BJP and accompanies Dubey to every street meeting.

Speaking before Dubey in Sidhua Sthan, Kushwaha says: “Please forgive the sitting MP for his mistakes and support him.”

While Madhesia and others accuse Dubey of having done nothing for the constituency, a middle-aged man at the rally explains to The Telegraph why Dubey needs a Kushwaha to seek pardon for him.

“Dubey allegedly needed money during the 2019 elections and sold his land to a Kushwaha. But when he won the election and the BJP formed the government again, Dubey refused to allow the buyer to take possession of the plot. So the Kushwaha community is angry with him,” he says, declining to give his name.

Dubey has denied the allegation in the past. He tells the rally: “Remember Modiji when you vote on June 1. He has brought respect to India. He has started many welfare schemes. You vote for a leader for the development of the country.”

He adds: “An international airport has been built here to strengthen the Bauddh Circuit (Gautam Buddha had attained Mahaparinirvan in Kushinagar). A medical college and an agriculture college have been opened.”

However, the airport, opened in 2021, lies virtually defunct with all its scheduled flights withdrawn for lack of customers. Only politicians land here in helicopters to address election rallies. The medical college is expected to become functional this year and the agriculture college will start operating once fully constructed.

Dubey moves on to a polarising issue: “After Ram, Bholenath (Lord Shiva) came. It’ll be time for Mathura’s fulfilment if Modiji becomes Prime Minister again.”

Hindus won the Ram Janmabhoomi-Babri Masjid case in the Supreme Court in 2019. Many Hindus consider the construction of the Kashi Vishwanath Corridor adjacent to the Gyanvapi mosque as a victory. Hindutva groups are now demanding the removal of the Shahi Idgah mosque from the proximity of the Krishna Janmasthan in Mathura.

Dubey accuses the BJP’s opponents of dividing society: “It’s easy to mislead society, divide it in the name of caste and lick the soles of a particular community.”

Raghav Saithwar, 25, an unemployed youth at the rally, is unimpressed.

“Good, they are opening an agriculture college but why are there no staff and why is no research happening in the existing sugarcane research centre in the district?” he asks his friend.

“The potato research centre is turning into a haunted house; no one is posted there. These people don’t preserve anything done by other governments; they prefer building new structures. Why?”

He answers the question himself: “It’s all about the money released for new projects. Budgets for the renovation or reactivation of existing centres are low.”

He continues: “They have exploited us enough by terrorising us in the name of Muslims. And while Modiji kept visiting foreign countries, China silently pulled Nepal towards herself.”

Kushinagar votes on June 1.

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