In BSP’s campaign for Noida’s ‘two electorates’, vikas is common refrain


Far away from the UP heartland, in Noida the traffic ignores all red lights as it unseeingly races past parks and malls, half-built highrises loom like skeletons in states of undress — and the political campaign is divided in two. In the run-up to polling day on February 28, two campaigns unfold simultaneously: one for the village, the other for the "sector" or urban area that came up on the land ringing the village and is now spreading greedily.

What connects the two is that in both, political parties speak the language of aspiration. It is also clear that the BSP has set the tone.

It is not as if caste math and community considerations, so intrinsic a calculus to the contest for UP, have melted away in Noida. Instead, in Mayawati's home district, the BSP is faced with a special challenge: on test is her party's ability to project itself as a sarvjan or umbrella party. The BSP will also be tested for its success, or lack of it, in speaking to the fast urbanising population that lives, and more importantly dreams, on Delhi's edge.

Given that Noida is a new constituency created after delimitation in which Brahmins are said to have a decisive say, the BSP has picked Om Dutt Sharma, or "Pandit ji", as its candidate. Under the overall supervision of the "mool sangathan" or the overwhelmingly Jatav core organisation, "bhaichara" teams made up of non-SC castes fan out daily to campaign for Sharma.

Bhatta-Parsaul, infamous for the police firing on farmers protesting land acquisition last year, lies in the adjoining constituency of Jewar. But even in the well-endowed Noida village, in which palatial bungalows overlooking kuchcha lanes tell a story of instant riches riding on the back of land sales, the festering problems of an incomplete or contested land acquisition are common. Sectors, on the other hand, bristle with issues ranging from drinking water to traffic woes, from education to health care.

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