Despite several attempts to reportedly “prevent citizens from casting votes”, over 50 percent participated in the recently concluded Ghosi State Assembly constituency by-polls held on September 5. However, the turnout was lower than the elections held in 2022, when nearly 59 percent had cast their vote in favour of the ruling party candidate Dara Singh Chauhan.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) has complained to the Election Commission of the misuse of official machinery and the prevention of Muslim voters from exercising their franchise at some of the polling booths. Out of 4,40,000, the second biggest group of voters in the area are Muslims. Those Muslim voters who did manage to vote are said to have favoured the SP candidate Sudhakar Singh this time round. The result is expected to be announced on September 8.

Singh had the support of all members of the recently formed alliance of opposition parties called the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA), including the Congress and the Left parties. This is the first electoral showdown in the state after the formation of the INDIA two months ago.

The by-poll was clearly a show of strength between the newly formed INDIA and the ruling party with only two major candidates in the fray in this eastern Uttar Pradesh (UP) constituency. The sizable number of about 60,000 Dalit voters seem to have favoured the SP candidate who is a two-time lawmaker and last won the Ghosi seat in 2012.

By fielding Singh, a Rajput, the SP has tried to attract backward class voters along with Dalits and Muslims to its social coalition. The traditional supporters of the SP have been Yadavs and Muslims but with Dalit leader Mayawati not having entered the contest in the Ghosi by-polls, a considerable number of Dalit votes seem to have gone to the SP.

With the exit of Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) from the by-polls and the Congress in support of the SP candidate, Singh is confident of having won over both the Dalit and Muslim support. The swing vote for Singh is surely dependent upon the Dalit voter.

The Dalit seems to have voted in favour of the SP as it looks upon the ruling party contestant Dara Singh Chauhan as a turncoat in Ghosi. Chauhan won the elections in the same constituency in 2022 as a SP candidate but within 15 months he joined the ruling party, resulting in the need for a by-poll.

Voters feel that it is cheeky of Chauhan to have returned to the constituency after 15 months to ask for votes, this time for the ruling party. Most voters don’t trust Chauhan anymore. They say that Chauhan is an outsider in Ghosi. He is from Azamgarh, while Singh is a local leader. “I don’t trust Chauhan who has been party hopping without care throughout his political career,” a voter said.

As a student leader Chauhan had supported the Congress. In 1996 he joined the SP and served two terms as a member of the Rajya Sabha. He hopped over to the BSP in 2007 and was the party candidate from the Ghosi Lok Sabha constituency.

In 2015, he went to the ruling party and was appointed Minister of Forest and Environment in the UP government. Unable to get a ticket to contest the 2022 assembly elections, he had returned to the SP but left the party after 15 months to go back to the ruling party to contest the by-poll held early this week.

House Of Cards

When homes are not being bulldozed, many of them are seen to collapse like a house of cards due to faulty construction in different parts of UP. In a latest incident at least three people lost their life and 10 others were injured after a double storeyed residential building in the Fatehpur area of UP’s Barabanki district collapsed early this week.

The owner had also lived in the same building which is just a few years old but probably due to faulty construction caved in causing the death of some residents and reducing many to homelessness.

Today builders are a dime a dozen in UP. Most of them have no clue about the art of construction or developing land that is people friendly. Profit alone, and a quick way to get wealthy seems to be the only reason for more and more people entering into the profession of building.

Ideally developers develop, and builders build. A professional developer takes raw land, obtains the necessary permits, creates building lots, and puts in the sewers, the water and electric lines, the streets and kerbs.

When these facilities are in place then the builder comes in to erect the house. A builder can also be a developer and the best builders actively work with their clients throughout the construction process to ensure that the building project follows the specifications and results in their dream home.

That means professional builders need to have excellent communication skills on top of being a good leader for their construction workers. However, today most builders and residents have a terrible reputation, and track record of their work.

Most residents complain that builders are not sensitive to their needs and problems. Builders are blamed for cutting costs and running away after they have been paid by residents in return for dangerously poor-quality buildings.

The thought of the tragedy of the collapse of Lucknow’s five-storeyed Alaya Apartments early this year and the death of three innocent lives still brims the eyes with sorrow. Action is still pending against the Yazdan builders blamed for having violated construction norms.

The residents of the Alaya Apartments who survived the tragedy are still unsettled and running from pillar to post to get on with their lives. Some have moved into rented accommodation or are living with relatives. Ranjana Awasthi, a single parent, lost her home and everything that she had earned over a period of three decades.

Along with her daughter, Awasthi is living with friends till both of them are able to earn enough to rent an apartment. The state has not come forward to support Awasthi or other residents like her to rebuild their tattered life.