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 campaigns is that in both, political parties speak the language of aspiration. It is 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, UP's ruling party is faced with a special challenge: on test is her party's ability to project itself as a sarvjan or umbrella party. The BSP in Noida 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 Vidhan Sabha 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 village, where palatial bungalows overlooking kuchcha lanes speak of instant riches riding on the back of land sales, the festering problems of an incomplete or contested land acquisition are common.

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