Sharad Yadav Challenges Gandhi Family in Their Stronghold… Full Story of Money-Power-Politics

It was the era of ballot paper, there have been repeated demands to return it. Booth occupiers at polling stations were generally unchallenged. Wherever Sharad was resisted from the camp, they were beaten up in the presence of the police.

Sharad Yadav was defeated by Rajiv Gandhi in Amethi.

Sharad Yadav, who came close to the Congress in the latter days, was once a bright young face in non-Congress politics. He challenged Rajiv Gandhi in his first Lok Sabha election in Amethi. Even after the defeat, he tried to intensify the anti-Congress struggle in Amethi-Sultanpur for a long time.

Sharad Yadav won the first Lok Sabha election from Jabalpur in 1974 as a joint candidate of the opposition while in jail. At that time Sharad was the president of the student union. JP’s student-youth movement was at its peak and due to that Sharad was in jail. The seat fell vacant in 1974 due to the death of Seth Govindas, who had represented the Jabalpur Lok Sabha constituency since 1952.

Resignation against extension of term of Parliament

Congress fielded his son in the by-election. The opposition supported Sharad Yadav on JP’s initiative. Sharad Yadav was very popular and famous as a student leader. His landslide victory in this by-election brought him national attention and fame. Sharad Yadav was in jail during the Emergency.

Meanwhile, Indira Gandhi extended the term of the Fifth Lok Sabha by one year with the intention of postponing the elections. Sharad Yadav was the first MP to resign from the Lok Sabha, calling the hike unconstitutional and unfair.

Maneka was dropped after Sanjay Gandhi’s death

In 1977, Indira Gandhi was defeated in Rae Bareli and her younger son Sanjay Gandhi was defeated in the neighboring Amethi constituency. Indiraji returned to power in 1980. In this election, Sanjay Gandhi again contested from Amethi and settled the old score by winning. But soon after the death of Sanjay Gandhi in a plane crash, Indira Gandhi’s family began to quarrel over political succession.

Maneka Gandhi claimed her late husband’s political legacy. He wanted to contest the by-election from Amethi Lok Sabha seat. But Indira Gandhi ignored his demand.

The opposition was looking for a famous face against Rajiv Gandhi

Indira Gandhi’s decision was made in favor of her eldest pilot son Rajiv Gandhi. Rajiv Gandhi’s interest in politics was not known till then. His wife Sonia Gandhi was also said to be against her husband joining politics. After Rajiv Gandhi’s name was announced, the opposition decided to field a famous face against him.

In the 1977 Janata wave, local Jan Sangh leader Rabindra Pratap Singh defeated Sanjay Gandhi. Rebel Rabindra Pratap Singh was in Puri Emergency Jail. Challenging Sanjay Gandhi at that time was an act of great courage. But after the defeat of Rabindra Pratap Singh in 1980, his claim in the by-elections weakened.

Amethi: Administration, Police, Govt… all with Rajeev

In 1981, when Sharad Yadav came to Amethi to contest against Rajiv Gandhi, the picture changed completely. Apart from the Centre, Congress has also returned to Uttar Pradesh. Local Congress leaders were competing to increase their numbers in the new court. Rajiv Gandhi had all the power of administration-police-government and finance.

Amethi was glowing with the glow of the Gandhi family. Even though his victory was assured, the Congress camp did not want to leave any chance for the opposition. The local leaders of the opposition were frustrated and were waging war against the dynasty, including Sharad Yadav, a few youths from western Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, the results of which were already known.

Sultanpur DM with Gandhi family

It was the era of ballot paper, there have been repeated demands to return it. Booth occupiers at polling stations were generally unchallenged. Wherever Sharad was resisted from the camp, they were beaten up in the presence of the police. Amethi district was then a part of Sultanpur. Pulak Chatterjee was the District Magistrate of Sultanpur. Since then he had such ties with the Gandhi family that he crossed over to Sultanpur and then Indira Gandhi’s constituency Rae Bareli to connect with the Shikhar family through the PMO and Rajiv Gandhi Foundation etc. in Delhi.

…and then Amethi

The security at the polling booths may have been nominal in this election, but the arrangements during the counting of votes in Sultanpur Collectorate were extraordinary. Ballot papers were also coming out of the ballot boxes which were in the form of bundles and were not folded. Every objection of Sharad Yadav was not heard first during polling and then during counting.

Undeterred by the security forces, he and some of his comrades in green turbans kept raising slogans against the atrocities. Once, Sharad Yadav was seen running towards the District Magistrate/Election Officer. Soumya Chatterjee smiled and tried to calm him down by taking off his glasses and extending them to him.

In this election Rajiv Gandhi got 2,58,884 votes and Sharad Yadav got only 21,188 votes. Sharad Yadav continued to come to Amethi and Sultanpur after the election defeat. They continue to search for sparks in the ashes through settlements and personal contacts. Then Sharad Yadav forgot the way to Amethi and said, “No matter how much you shout, no one will open the door and come out with you!” He doesn’t even open the window to peek.

In 1981, Sharad Yadav launched a campaign to free Amethi from the grip of the Gandhi family. It took 38 years to complete. In 2019, Amethi turned its back on the Gandhi family, rejecting Rahul Gandhi. Meanwhile, a full circle has turned. But by then Sharad Yadav, a fighter against non-Congress and tribal politics, had become close to the Congress.

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