UP panchayat election: A gateway to dynastic politics.
As the panchayat election in Uttar Pradesh reaches the end of its second phase of nomination, the contest in the state is becoming interesting with the arrival of relatives of many veterans in the electoral arena. This time there is a possibility that the maximum number of candidates for the three-tier election will be from the youth category. The panchayat elections are seen by politicians as an opportunity for their sons, daughters and wives to enter politics.
Srikala Singh, wife of former MP Dhananjay Singh in Jaunpur district, filed her nomination papers as independent candidate for zilla panchayat member on April 3. Dhananjay, an accused in the Ajit Singh murder case in Lucknow, was recently released on bail.
Anil Dujana, an accused in over 20 criminal cases of murder, robbery and murderous attacks, has also prepared to field his wife in the panchayat election. Dujana, a resident of Gautam Buddh Nagar district, had contested and won in the 2016 panchayat election from ward number two of the district, but this time the seat is reserved for backward class women. So, since Anil himself cannot contest, he has prepared to field his wife Pooja.
Sanjay Bhati, a former member of the zilla panchayat in Gautam Buddh Nagar, has fielded his son Akshay Chaudhary after joining the BSP. Bhati is the cousin of former Dadri MLA Sameer Bhati. At the same time, Brijendra Bhati, former chairman of the District Panchayat in Gautam Buddh Nagar, has also fielded his son Aman Bhati after joining the BSP.A major reason for this increased attraction of panchayat elections is the money being allocated to panchayats since the 14th Finance Commission came into play. The 15th Finance Commission agreed to allocate Rs 47,764 crore in the last six years, including the year 2020-21. In the next five years (2021-22 to 2025-26), more than Rs 38,000 crore are to be spent through the newly-elected representatives. Many Gram Panchayats have got a budget of more than Rs 1 crore over the past five years through good performance, plus the amount received from the State Finance Commission. Dr. Manish Hindavi, associate professor at Vidyant Hindu PG College, Lucknow, says, “The amount that the panchayat is getting is attracting the next generation of senior leaders. It is why leaders are fielding their sons and daughters in the elections. It is also relatively easier to enter politics through panchayat elections.”
However, the race for Panchayat election has also started an internal war between political families. As soon as the list of BJP candidates for the UP panchayat election was released on April 2, the feud within the family of Ramveer Upadhyay, a prominent leader in the state and former energy minister in the BSP government, came to the fore. Ritu Upadhyay, wife of Ramveer’s younger brother Mukul Upadhyay, has filed her nomination as a BJP candidate from Ward No. 14 of Hathras as a district panchayat member. The “devrani” Ritu will be competing with her “jethani”, Ramveer’s wife and former MP Seema Upadhyay.
In Ayodhya, the Samajwadi Party has named Priyanka Sen Yadav, wife of jailed IPS officer Arvind Sen Yadav, and Indu Sen Yadav, wife of Arvind’s younger brother and former minister in the BSP government Anand Sen Yadav, as a candidate. Priyanka will contest from Harringtonganj I and Indu from Harringtonganj III.
Clearly, nothing says family like a good political war.