Why Rahul Gandhi's Bhatta Parsaul buddy is fighting UP polls on a BJP ticket
Former Congress member Dhirendra Singh joined Modi's election army in January 2017.
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Lush green fields and peacocks perched on fences. Tractors pull along the muddy roads noisily, men sit in circles smoking tobacco while women make dung cakes and leave them out to dry after completing their household chores.
This is a typical day in the quiet villages of Bhatta Paarsaul. There are narrow lanes for bikes to pass by and it is easier to travel on foot than squeeze your car through them.
Not too long ago, this village was a symbol of farmer resistance. It is a landmark as far as peasant uprisings go.
In 2011, the farmers of the the villages rebelled against the then Mayawati's government for acquiring their land for the Yamuna Expressway project.
Their knight in shining armour was Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.
Barred from entering the village, Rahul rode pillion on the motorcycle of a villager and then party worker Thakur Dhiren see Singh. He sat with the farmers, consoled them and lent his support. Fast forward six years, Singh, then a close aide of Rahul Gandhi, has shifted loyalties - and joined the BJP.Dhirendra Singh: 'He helped us then, but forgot about us.' Photo: Indiatoday.in
In December 2016, he resigned from the Congress and, less than a month later, filed his nomination papers to contest from Jewar on a BJP ticket.
Talking to a group of villagers who have gathered to play cards during the day, Singh said, "This spot where we are sitting is exact the same place Rahul sat with us. He helped us then, but forgot about us. Many of our villagers are still in jail."
"The BJP and NSP are fighting a close battle. The SP will lose out on votes this time because of their alliance. Moreover we Jats do not vote for the Congress. Even Dhiren Singh left the Congress party," said another farmer.
Neither the BJP nor the BSP is going to be lenient on the issue of Jat reservation, but villagers say that only Mayawati's and Modi can help them.
Not even the demonetisation drive has forced them to changed their mind. "Notebandi was for our own good. People had money in their mattresses. We had to sacrifice for a month but everything is fine now," said Jagpal Singh, another local.
The women of Bhatta Parsaul, on the other hand, want Mayawati back in power.
"I will vote for Mayawati whether people think it is good or bad. She is after all the daughter of this village. I hope she comes back to power and then provides employment to my son," said Ahmthi, an elderly woman.
Development and employment are on Bhatta Parsaul's mind this election. While no one here speaks about Rahul and Akhilesh, you sense that it is religion and ethnic identity that’s keeping the BJP and BSP ships afloat.