UP election: How Shamli’s Thanabhawan seat will test Akhilesh Yadav’s politics

UP election: How Shamli’s Thanabhawan seat will test Akhilesh Yadav’s politics

UP election

Uttar pradesh:Akhilesh Yadav’s entire political image-makeover rests on two pillars - clean politics, free of crime; and transcending the caste and communal divide. This, in the narrative of Akhilesh supporters, is what distinguishes him from his father and uncle, and the politics of identity and crime that permeated the Samajwadi Party.And if this is to be tested, travel to one west UP seat - where Akhilesh has gambled with his choice of candidate.Welcome to Thanabhawan, a constituency in the Shamli district that goes to polls on Saturday. The BJP candidate here is Suresh Rana, often in the news for his provocative remarks and his role in Muzaffarnagar riots. But the SP candidate is a Lucknow University zoology professor and state Planning Commission member, Sudhir Panwar.As he filed his nomination a fortnight ago, Panwar was confident about making the transition from academia to mass politics. He traced his roots to Bhainswal village in the district, he spoke of his family there, and told a group of supporters at home, “You don’t have to hang your head in shame when you vote this time. District administration officials were surprised when they saw my form - and that there were no criminal charges. This is a new experiment. We need your support”

Does he feel odd being in a party known for its image of goondagardi? “SP is in transition. There is hardly anyone now with such a background. In fact, it is the party known to be opposed to goondas.” Panwar says he first got attracted to Akhilesh when he denied D P Yadav a ticket back in the 2012 polls. “And now the CM is in full control.”

But there are many candidates without criminal antecedents.

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