UP Elections 2017: Newborn Symbol Of Samajwadi Party's Notes Ban Politics

Uttar Pradesh Elections: Akhilesh Yadav to talk about Khazanchi, who was born two months ago.

Kanpur Dehat: Khazanchi can't speak, can barely smile, and is learning how to hold his head steady. He is the star of Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav's campaign.

In rallies across the state ahead of elections from Saturday, Akhilesh Yadav makes it a point to talk about Khazanchi, who was born two months ago, in a bank queue after Prime Minister Narendra Modi's notes ban, which has been criticized by opposition parties.

"A child was delivered while standing in the queue, I honoured the name that bank employees gave him (Khazanchi) and provided support of 2 lakh," Mr Yadav, also the Samajwadi Party (SP) chief, said at a recent rally in Kanpur, reminding his audience that it was only the poor, and not the rich, who bore the brunt.

Khazanchi's mother Sarvesha Devi had waited for five hours outside a bank branch in Jhinjhak town when she went into labour. The baby boy is her fifth child, born after the recent death of her husband, a snake charmer.

Bank employees and others suggested the newborn be named Khazanchi, which means treasurer or cashier. She agreed.

In times of elections, Khazanchi has been introduced early to the world of politics.

Well before he turned a month old, Akhilesh Yadav awarded Rs 2 lakh to his mother in a move perceived to be high on political symbolism; a high profile election in the state was just around the corner.

Back in their village around 40 km from the district headquarters, which has about 450 voters from backward castes, Khazanchi is fast asleep on the only cot the family has, outside their mud house.

"Yes, this baby boy has given me hope that I can survive," says Sarvesha Devi, sharing her daily struggle to make ends meet.

What is her view of the government's overnight ban on high value currency notes, which forced millions like her to spend hours in queues outside banks and ATMs for cash? She shrugs, "Don't ask me about politics. I have no idea."

Aruna Kori, a junior culture minister in Akhilesh government and local SP candidate for the Rasulabad seat that goes to vote on 19 February, conceded Khazanchi was a "big part of her election campaign". "At least Akhilesh helped the child," she says, a rebuttal to BJP leaders who insist the baby's birth "doesn't really prove anything".

Kori's rival from the BJP, Nirmala Shankhwar, responded: "If he is a star, he is a star for everyone and not just one political party... In the villages everyone is saying the notes ban was absolutely good".