Charcha with UP’s Tempowalas: Who Are They Voting For This Time?
Right under the busy metro station of Noida Sector 15 stands a bunch of colourful ‘tempos’ – a defining vehicle plying on the roads of Noida and Ghaziabad. The drivers of these tempos are enjoying their morning tea as they are waiting for their sawaris. It’s Sunday and therefore, not a busy day for chaiwalals as they sip chai and indulge in charcha on who will win the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh.
“Who are you voting for?” asks The Quint’s Stutee Ghosh to the tempowalas surrounding the chai stall. “I’ll vote for PM Narendra Modi and his party,” says Mukhbeer Singh. Mukhbeer is from Aligarh and earns his living through his tempo. “I've been driving tempos in Ghaziabad for 15 years now. I've seen both Mayawati and Akhilesh come to power. They are both corrupt. I want change,” he says.
Another tempowala, Manoj Chauhan, who lives in Noida, said, “I will vote for the lotus (BJP’s poll symbol).” Upset with the Mayawati government, Manoj says: “During her rule, I can either feed my kids or the elephant (BSP’s poll symbol).”
Mayawati was hugely criticized and also voted out of power for building statues of herself and the elephant, her party symbol, across the state. In a rally held in Ghaziabad, she assured voters that BSP will now focus on development and not erect monuments.
Her supporters acknowledge that her statues are a big blunder but also praise her government’s ability to keep the law and order situation in check. “Why is it that goons and police fear Mayawati so much?” asks Mohammed Usman. “Why do Raja ji and his father prefer jail during her rule and not during Akhilesh’s?,” he asks.
The election has been touted as a face-off between apne ladke vs bahari aadmi. Mayawati has largely been missing from the campaign trail. On being asked to explain her absence, her supporter said:
Akhilesh Ka Kaam Bolta Hai
“Is Yadav voting for Yadav?”
“No. Akhilesh's work speaks for him,” Rupender Yadav tells Stutee outside a tempo stand, next to Vaishali Metro Station.
“Akhilesh has done a lot in the last 5 years, something nobody has done in 20 years. He is a youth leader,” says Mohammed Shabaz Khan. “Cycles for the poor, ambulances for villages. Lucknow has a metro now. UP is being developed,” adds Mohammed Wasim.
Uttar Pradesh is the most important state in Indian politics. The state has given our country 8 out of its 14 Prime Ministers. With the recent SP-Congress alliance, Akhilesh is eyeing a larger role in the General Elections of 2019. The road to Delhi runs through Lucknow. Is it going to be for Akhilesh or will Prime Minister Narendra Modi come to power again?
Video Editor: Hitesh Singh
(The Quint is now available on Telegram. For handpicked stories every day, subscribe to us on Telegram)