JHANSI: On a sweltering May evening, Congress’s lone candidate in Bundelkhand, Pradeep Jain Aditya, embarks on a mass contact programme in Jhansi’s crowded Sadar market.
Though sweating profusely and visibly tired, Jain, accompanied by the workers of SP and AAP, makes sure that he enters every single shop in the market and interacts with every trader and businessman.Despite a strong pro-Modi sentiment in the constituency, Jain commands respect for the works he has done in the past while serving as an MP.
To woo voters, Jain is selling the idea of a separate state of Bundelkhand. “Congress has always believed that smaller states should exist and that is why we passed the proposal in Vidhan Sabha. However, in a federal structure, one cannot force a state govt. BJP has govts in Madhya Pradesh as well as UP but they are no longer talking about this issue which their own veterans like Rajnath Singh and Uma Bharti had flagged off a few years ago. We will try our best to ensure formation of Bundelkhand state if we form govt,” he says.
Aditya Bhanu, who runs a shop in Sadar, says: “Jain still commands a lot of respect. Even in this heat, he is making sure that he meets everyone. Some traders were not in their shops when Jain visited. He made sure that he returns to meet them.”
Jain’s political career started with student politics, and he went on to become Union minister for rural development in UPA govt. Before entering Lok Sabha, Jain served as MLA from Jhansi Sadar seat on two occasions. Jain’s friends from as far as Chandigarh have joined him in the campaign. For their party office, a marriage hall has been taken on rent where boards and hoardings are being put up. “Jhansi’s people are fighting this election. They want a candidate who would be there for them. I am fortunate that I never had to ask for a ticket. The alliance is working very well here. They are covering areas where I am not able to go personally,” Jain says. “The biggest issue driving the election this time is the Constitution. Ration is not as attractive a scheme as last time because people are worried that if BJP gets 400 seats, they will change the Constitution. People believe that by giving them ration, BJP wants to make them useless. Its candidates have said that the Constitution has shortcomings and that they need a majority to change it,” he claims.
“Lack of jobs, for which govt is trying to compensate through schemes like free ration, is evident in cases like police constable recruitment for which 65 lakh candidates, many of them graduates and postgraduates, appeared for 51,000 seats,” Jain remarks. “There is no industry here. Nothing has come up in the recent past. The setting up of BIDA has angered many as people are not getting adequate compensation for land acquisition. BHEL is not getting work. In the coach factory inaugurated by the PM, 1,700 people had to be recruited but only 20 have been appointed,” he claims.

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