The Lok Sabha elections of 2009 have thrown up many surprises though one outcome that really makes one sit up and take note is the stupendous victory of Congress nominee from Unnao, Mrs Annu Tandon. The victory appears undeniably remarkable if we take into consideration all the following facts:
- That the lady has won the elections with a thumping margin of more than 3 lakh votes. Only Sonia Gandhi and Rahul Gandhi do surpass her victory margin (as far as Uttar Pradesh is concerned).
- That her main rival happened to be Anna Shukla, one of the “bahubalis” adorning the state’s politics, who incidentally was fielded by the ruling party in the state – the BSP.
- That the lady, who of course hails from a reputed family of the district, hardly has any political background to speak of. In fact, after she settled down in Mumbai following her marriage, her only connection with her native place is a social outfit that she runs there, which seems to have done some commendable work.
The victory may not actually be a reflection upon the general public mood across the country, but it certainly must not be dismissed as a flash in the pan thereby giving our netas yet another excuse to keep hob-nobbing with shady characters in the name of political compulsions.
In fact, in view of Ms Tandon’s victory, the Congress owes the country an answer as to why it chose to make friends with Sadhu Yadav and Pappu Yadav who in any case could not help the party improve its tally. While Sadhu, the infamous brother-in-law of Lalu Prasad, lost his deposit, Pappu’s wife and mother failed to win their seats despite the so-called following enjoyed by the self-styled Robinhood.
Unnao is no metro city where the victory of the urbane Ms Tandon could have been seen as “natural”. She had neither the caste arithmetic in her favour (her surname denotes that she is a Punjabi Khatri), does not happen to be the wife, daughter, mother or sister of a high-profile politician. Still, she managed to comprehensively defeat a man known mainly for his fire power and belonging to a caste group which has traditionally held sway over the state and which has found favour with the current ruling dispensation in the state. Moreover, Mrs Tandon, who is in her 50s, is also not a filmstar hence the possibility of “glamour quotient” is also ruled out.
One wonders why the Grand Old Party could not opt for experimenting with a different brand of candidates in Supaul, Purnea (where Pappu’s wife and mother respectively lost) and Pashchim Champaran (where Sadhu forefeited his deposit). The result in Unnao is indeed a strong signal to not only the Congress but all other parties which unabashedly proclaim that gun-toting thugs have become indispensable to the political scene in the Hindi heartland. One hopes that the netas do take note of the fact that decency continues to be rewarded in public life. The courts of law have already started doing their bit by having denied permission to many a tainted politician to fight elections. Now, the khadi brigade must prove that its belief in virtues is not a sham.