Battle for UP: A tough battle in Kannauj for this ex-IPS officer

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If one could turn the clock back, he would have been in his uniform supervising the law and order in his district and managing the election. Now he is in khadi, contesting his first election.

Former IPS officer Aseem Arum, who took the plunge into politics last month when he quit his job and joined the BJP, is contesting the Kannauj seat — a seat that is considered a Samajwadi bastion.

The BJP, however, is buoyed up by the fact that in 2019 Lok Sabha elections, it had managed to defeat Dimple Yadav, the then Kannauj MP and wife of Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav.

In his first election, Aseem Arun is up against three-time SP MLA Anil Dohre, who has described him as an outsider and a political tourist.

Dohre strongly pushes the narrative as a contest between one who was not with the people and someone who is always accessible.

Dohre says, “The BJP does not believe in locals that is why it has brought in an outsider. The people want to get rid of the BJP this time. All the development has been done by the SP. The BJP was there only to claim credit. He (Arun) is not in the race.”

The SP has been holding on to this seat since 1996.

Arun is countering this with the help of social media campaigns and short video messages released every day.

“My father was born and raised at Khair Nagar in Thatiya in Kannauj. Even when I was in service, I stayed close to my roots, my mother was deeply involved in social work. My wife and I were part of that,” he says.

He adds, “I am not an outsider. People are already comparing me and the rest positively and this is unnerving the opponents.”

“I will devote myself to working for the SCs/STs (scheduled castes/scheduled tribes) and marginalised communities. I am joining the BJP that has done a lot for the underprivileged and I will take that further,” he asserts.

Aseem Arun is staying in a simple hotel room from where he is running his campaign.

He sets out early in the morning with the target of visiting seven villages in the day. His wife Jyotsana and two sons cover the other villages.

“We are trying to touch as many people as possible. We have a strong social media team in place. In the beginning, people were calling me Commissioner Sahab, I told them I left the police officer in Kanpur, I am your Asim, your representative,” he says.

At a meeting in a village, Arun says the law-and-order situation is better than before, giving an example of how a kidnapped boy was rescued by the police in just six hours. “Was it possible in the SP regime?” he asks.

Kannauj goes to polls in the third phase on February 20.

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