The Samajwadi Party candidate from Fatehpur Sikri may officially go by the name of Rani Pakshalika Singh, but is devoid of the fuss associated with former royalty. One just walks into the sprawling Badhawar House tucked in a quiet corner of Agra and she obliges this newspaper with an interview.
The wife of “Raja Mahendra Aridaman Singh” of Badhawar, Singh is making her second foray into politics in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Her first was in 2012, when she fought the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections from the Kheragarh Assembly seat. She lost by a narrow margin of a few thousand votes. Her husband is a Cabinet minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government and is the MLA from Bah, one of the five Assembly segments that constitute Fatehpur Sikri. The other four are Agra Rural, Fatehpur Sikri, Kheragarh and Fatehabad.
Ask her why she returned to politics and she replies, “I had put in a lot of effort in the 2012 elections to know Kheragarh. I know the people and they know me. Bah and Kheragarh are our strongholds. The people said they wanted me to contest.” She has been helping her husband fight his political battles for around 25 years and so this is not unfamiliar territory for her.
Her principal opposition in the Lok Sabha elections is the Bahujan Samaj Party’s sitting Member of Parliament, Seema Upadhyay. As some BSP leaders tell this newspaper, in Bah and Kheragarh it is a direct fight between the two ladies. So claims and counter-claims have become the order of the day.
The Rani refutes Upadhyay’s claim that the latter was instrumental in the 100% electrification of the constituency. “We (the SP government) brought in a package for electricity. We are writing for bigger transformers. What has the BSP done? Do you know when the SP came to power in 2012, the state’s coffers were empty?”
The Rani is fighting on the plank to bring development to Fatehpur Sikri, which is a 100% rural constituency. “Fatehpur Sikri has it all, monuments, history. But it has been neglected. Roads are a problem, so are electricity and drinking water. The 2009 water situation has not changed at all.” “One MLA, one minister cannot bring development to an entire region,” she says, while referring to her husband. “Jaishe shaan thi, that is not there anymore. We can bring it back.”