Battleground Uttar Pradesh: Wooing voters of Noida

Battleground Uttar Pradesh: Wooing voters of Noida

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Noida:  For years, Noida has been at the centre of a political superstition.

It started in 1988 with Veer Bahadur Singh, who lost his Chief Minister's chair, days after setting foot in Noida. The same happened with chief minister N D Tiwari.

In 1995, as Chief Minister, Mulayam Singh Yadav lost in the polls that followed after his Noida rally, likewise for Mayawati in 1997 and the jinx that any sitting chief minister of Uttar Pradesh who addresses a rally in Noida, never completes his/her term, acquired many believers.

In fact, so strong was the belief that Rajnath Singh inaugurated the DND flyover as Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh from the Delhi end, carefully avoiding stepping on Noida soil.

Mayawati has perhaps broken that jinx in 2007, when she came to Noida soon after her victory and has now completed her 5 year term in office.

Since then it seems, Noida has come out of political untouchability and big parties are wooing the voter here.

Mayawati addressed a rally in Greater Noida on February 22, BJP's Sushma Swaraj in Noida and now Congress' star campaigner Rahul Gandhi also campaigned for the Congress candidate for the newly formed constituency of Noida.

In a state where caste considerations dominate the political pitch, Noida presents a different challenge. With a large number of urban voters, political parties use the development plank here. Like Mayawati did in her election speech in Greater Noida saying her government had done a lot of development including building hospitals, schools, colleges.

A resident of Noida told NDTV, "In elections, there are three things that matter: Law and order, development and the issue of corruption."

Another woman voter said, "We are still grappling with water and electricity problems. We want a government that will focus on civic amenities."

What also makes Noida an interesting battleground is the mix of urban and rural voters. This is where India has its first ever F1 racing track, yet not too far are the villages of Bhatta Parsaul... the epicentre of the land acquisition battle  which saw Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi champion the cause of farmers.

One that still finds a resonance in his election speeches. In his speech in Noida on Friday, he said, "Look at Bhatta Parsaul. Farmers lands were snatched. The Maya government doled out land to builders. Farmers ask for rights, they are showered with bullets."

The first five phases of polling in UP has seen a big turnout compared to the last time. It will be interesting to see if Noida's voters do the same when they vote on February 28.

(Arvind Uttam contributed to this story)

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