UP Elections 2022: SP fields Gulshan Yadav, earlier aide of Raja Bhaiya from Kunda

He has weathered the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) wave in 2007, the Samajwadi Party (SP) in 2012 and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) wave in 2017.

IANSUpdated: Friday, February 11, 2022, 03:26 PM IST
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SP candidate Gulshan Yadav (L) and Indpendent MLA Raja Bhaiyya |

For the first time in nearly three decades, independent legislator Raghuraj Pratap Singh a.k.a. Raja Bhaiya is facing a challenge in his own constituency Kunda.

Raja Bhaiyya has been winning this seat since 1993 and his victory margin has only grown with every election.

He has weathered the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) wave in 2007, the Samajwadi Party (SP) in 2012 and the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) wave in 2017.

This time, he is being challenged by his own acolyte Gulshan Yadav, who is the SP candidate. Raja Bhaiyya is contesting on the Jansatta Dal ticket-a party he floated two years ago.

Raja Bhaiyya, who served as minister in the Mulayam Singh government in 2005 and then the Akhilesh government in 2012, severed his ties with SP when the latter entered into a poll pact with BSP in 2019.

Akhilesh recently retaliated by asking "Kaun hai Raja Bhaiyya?" in Pratapgarh when questioned about the possibility of an alliance with Raja Bhaiyya.

SP has now fielded former nagger panchayat chairman of Kunda, Gulshan Yadav, who was earlier an aide of Raja Bhaiyya. Gulshan Yadav has now launched a vociferous campaign against the erstwhile Raja of Kunda.

Even as he goes around hurling abusive remarks at his former mentor, he also claims a threat to his life from his opponent.

Raja Bhaiyya, meanwhile, refuses to comment on Gulshan Yadav. "Let us talk about other issues instead," he says when asked about the SP campaign against him.

Raja Bhaiyya, a scion of Bhadri and Bainti estates, is busy campaigning in his constituency and this time, his twin sons Shivraj and Brajraj, are also campaigning for their father.

This is the first time that other members of his family are out campaigning. The boys, still in their teens, move out with folded hands and ask people for 'samarthan' (support).

Interestingly, Kunda has an overwhelming majority of OBCs and Dalits - and not Thakurs--as many believe.

Raja Bhaiyya is looked upon as a Thakur icon with strong Hindu leanings. His father, Raja Uday Pratap Singh is known for his religious and philanthropic activities among Hindus.

Raja Bhaiyya, significantly, launched his election campaign from Ayodhya after the darshan of 'Ram Lalla.'

His party, the Jansatta Dal, opposes caste-based reservations.

Raja Bhaiyya's supporters admit that the election scene is turning "ugly" with the kind of campaign being carried out by Gulshan Yadav but also emphasise that it will not impact the outcome.

"This is democracy and everyone can contest elections. If someone wishes to launch a vicious campaign, it is their choice. The people know very well who works for their welfare and who is here for personal gains," says Kailash Nath Mishra, the general secretary of Jansatta Dal.

What is now working in Raja Bhaiyya's favour is the fact that he has mended fences with his bete-noire Congress leader Pramod Tiwari, who also belongs to Pratapgarh and this has eased tensions between their respective supporters.

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