Anupriya Patel, Raja Bhaiya locked in a battle of egos

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Anupriya Patel, Raja Bhaiya locked in a battle of egos

Lucknow:  An unusual battle of egos between two big leaders from eastern Uttar Pradesh has taken everyone by surprise.

Apna Dal (S) leader and Union Minister Anupriya Patel and Kunda MLA Raghuraj Pratap Singh a.k.a Raja Bhaiya have been issuing statements against each other which have shaken the political alignments in the region.

The two are not contesting against each other and neither are their parties locked in the electoral battle. Yet, this is on its way to becoming a ‘mother of all battles’ in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh.

Apna Dal (S) leader and Union Minister Anupriya Patel — normally known to be a non-controversial politician — ruffled feathers when she slammed the “self-proclaimed kings who thought Kunda (an Assembly segment in Kaushambhi) was their fiefdom”.

“Ab raja EVM se paida hote hain (Now kings are born from EVMs),” she had said.

The statement, apparently directed at Raghuraj Pratap Singh a.k.a Raja Bhaiya who is an influential politician in the region, was seen as Patel’s aggressive posturing to consolidate Dalit and OBC votes in the region.

Raja Bhaiya hit back saying that “EVMs give birth to Jan sewaks (public representatives) and not kings. “Raja Rajwade to saat dashak pehle hi khatam ho gaye,” he said.

An immediate fallout of this war of words was that Raja Bhaiya — who had been wooed by both, the BJP and Samajwadi Party (SP) for support in the ongoing elections — finally threw his weight behind SP.

His party workers are reaching Mirzapur to campaign for the SP candidate, Ramesh Bind, who is the outgoing BJP MP from Bhadohi but joined SP after being denied a ticket.

Raja Bhaiya, the scion of Bhadri estate in Pratapgarh, has been a seven-time MLA from Kunda since 1993 and wields clout in Kunda and its adjoining areas. His popularity among the Pasi community is well-known in political circles.

Till this war began, Anupriya Patel was comfortable in her constituency because Raja Bhaiya had maintained his neutrality. But with his supporters now aggressively campaigning for SP, the ground situation could change in the coming days.

Sangam Lal Gupta, the sitting BJP MP, is seeking re-election from Pratapgarh while SP has fielded S.P. Singh Patel and Prathamesh Mishra is the BSP candidate.

In Mirzapur, Anupriya Patel is pitted against SP’s Ramesh Bind and Manish Tripathi of BSP.

Pratapgarh goes to polls on May 25 while Mirzapur will vote in the final phase on June 1.


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