Despite opposition from the high-rise apartment dwellers and many party men, Atul Kumar Garg was given a ticket in Ghaziabad. Garg, a sitting MLA who owns colleges in the city, will have an uphill task in replacing General (Rtd) VK Singh.

There have been instances when Garg and his son were hooted out of the meetings in high rise apartments of his existing constituency. Though the seat had been an easy win for the BJP since it was carved out, the caste equation remains against Garg.

The opposition candidate, Dolly Sharma from the Congress party, holds a legacy of her family and a stronghold in the city area. During the last election, Dolly, a first timer in parliamentary elections, had secured third spot, but this time the alliance votes are likely to consolidate.

From Rajnath Singh, to VK Singh, in two decades and four elections, the party won by a thumping margin. For four terms, the BJP chose to field a Rajput candidate as the community has the largest number of voters. However, after 20 years, ignoring the caste demography, the BJP decided to field a candidate from the Baniya community.

Although Garg is a millionaire with a bustling higher education and technical education business, he has to face discontent from the loyalists of VK Singh, the Rajput community and also those who opposed him inside the party apart from the subsequent opposition by the apartment dwellers of Crossings Republik township and many high rise societies spread on both sides of NH 24 in his constituency.

The seat has five assembly constituencies — Loni, Muradnagar, Sahibabad, Ghaziabad, Dhaulana.

While the urban area has a sizeable Brahmin population with BJP’s MLA Sunil Kumar Sharma, who comes from the same community, has been given a berth in the cabinet to pacify the Brahmin voters.

The Rajput voters, however, have been left high and dry in the entire western UP with no seats have been given to any candidate and the only existing seat has been given to another community.

CASTE FACTOR HOLDS THE KEY

According to Pushpendra Rana, anthropology scholar from Barkatullah University, Ghaziabad constituency has about 5.5 lakh Muslim, 4.7 lakh Rajput, 4.5 lakh Brahmin, 2.5 lakh Baniya, 4.5 lakh SCs, 1.25 lakh Jat, one lakh Punjabi, 75,000 Tyagi, 70,000 Gujar, and five lakh other urban community voters.

“Despite being a citadel of Rajput candidates for many decades, the BJP has decided to field a Baniya candidate as the seat has become a ‘safe seat’ over the period of time for the party,” said Rana.

“The BJP candidate General VK Singh (retd) had won by a historic margin twice. From 1991 to 2004, Ramesh Chandra Tomar was the MP from the area when it was under Hapur constituency. He lost to Surendra Prakash Goyal in 2004. However, from 2009, Rajnath Singh became MP twice and VK Singh repeated twice by a huge margin. As Ghazibad was the only seat that was given to a Rajput candidate in west Uttar Pradesh, it will now be a tightrope walk for the BJP as there are no Rajput candidates in the entire area despite a sizeable population,” added Rana.

“From Saharanpur to Agra, not a single ticket has been given to any Rajput candidate despite a sizeable and decisive population, as the party considers them as traditional voters. Snatching Ghaziabad seat from the community has started discontent in the community,” said Rana.

As the party replaced VK Singh with Atul Garg, the local units of the Rajput wing have started showing dissent. In a letter to the party president JP Nadda, the Akhil Bharatiya Kshatriya Sabha demanded tickets for the community, expressing displeasure.

Apart from facing dissent from the Rajput community and urban highrise from his assembly constituency, Garg also faces challenges from inside his own community, with many old guns who were looking for an opportunity having been ignored and a sitting MLA has been given the opportunity.

UNHAPPY URBAN VOTERS

At least twice, Garg and his son were hooted out of the meetings from Crossings Republik, one of the biggest townships in the entire national capital territory. The apartment dwellers claim that during his tenure as an MLA, he never took any step to work for the betterment of high-rise societies.

Ujjwal Mishra, president, Federation of Crossings Republik Apartment Owners Association (FedCRAOA), said, “The locality is a township with over 18,000 votes and thousands of residents. Since it was constructed, we have been requesting the MLA AK Garg to fix the connectivity issue. However, there have only been false promises. The MLA used to visit once in a blue moon only to seek votes. The drain is yet to be fixed, a connecting road to Greater Noida West has been pending and many other key issues remain unresolved. We wonder how the party has given him a ticket with such a poor track record.”

“Before the elections, General VK Singh was the one who had promised an exclusive opening in the middle lane of NH 24 to decongest the area that suffers from huge traffic jams. Now we feel like the traditional urban voters have been left on their own,” said Mishra.

HISTORY OF HUGE MARGIN VICTORIES

The tag of being a traditional BJP seat and huge margin victories have been the two reasons that are with Garg.

In the 2014 election, BJP’s Singh had secured a historic 7,58,482 votes by defeating Congress’ Raj Babbar with a margin of over 5.67 lakh votes.

In the year 2019 again, Singh had defeated the closest competitor, Suresh Bansal of the Samajwadi Party, with a margin of over 5.1 lakh votes. Since the seat has become a traditional stronghold of the BJP, the party has chosen to risk the caste combination, like it does in neighbouring Gautam Budh Nagar (Noida).

Published By:

Vadapalli Nithin Kumar

Published On:

Mar 28, 2024

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