Along the Yamuna, the expressway is the only change in a region that remains stuck in time
Ajay Singh | February 28, 2014
As you drive on the Taj expressway, leaving behind the ‘rurban’ (that is, rural urban) muddle like Bhangel and Dadri of Noida and Khora village of Ghaziabad, the smoothness of the road and lush green setting around it present a picture of different India.
All along the road high-rise buildings and huge hoarding promising five-star urban residences impose a majestic presence over farmland where farmers are still sowing crops. But there are enough reasons for them to give up their age-old profession and adopt new ways of life which are not only attractive but also rewarding.
But before one drives up the expressway connecting Noida with Agra, there appear posters which prove beyond doubt that Uttar Pradesh is indeed the land son-rise. In one poster, despite his failings as chief minister, Akhilesh Yadav is promising to change Up with this vision. In another poster, Pankaj Singh, son of BJP president Rajnath Singh, is being projected as a new saviour of the region and a prospective BJP candidate for the coming elections.
The young and suave Pankaj Singh is eyeing Noida as his Lok Sabha seat because of concentration of Thakur votes and preponderance of urban voters. The obvious implication of this would be that Rajnath Singh would not contest again from the neighbouring Ghaziabad and would look for another constituency.
Obviously, if one tries to read the meaning of these signals, it reaffirms the faith that in UP politics nothing is changing qualitatively. As Akhilesh is the logical extension of his father Mulayam Singh Yadav, so will be Pankaj or sons or daughters of other big leaders. The only change that is tom-tommed all this while is the expressway which proudly marks a distinction in lifestyle of those moving in a high-class sedan or SUVs. The venue of Formula 1 race, yet another evidence of change, is also adjacent to the expressway.
As one moves to Mathura and Vrindavan, the interior roads are congested and poorly maintained, like any other towns in UP. Vrindavan brings to memory the image of a playful Lord Krishna with cow herds in riverine and green surroundings. But the township has turned into a real-estate bazaar dominated by spiritual gurus. Most of them have occupied big estates by the side of the Yamuna which is choked and converted into a dingy canal.
The story of politics in this part of UP is no different. This constituency is represented by Jayant Singh, son of RLD chief and civil aviation minister Ajit Singh. Though he is reluctant to contest from Mathura this time, he is finding it difficult to change his constituency because of the Muzaffarnagar riots that pitted Jats against Muslims. Like time, he is also stuck in politics of Mathura.
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