Mainpuri, the place

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1967- 2019 April

Pravin Kumar & Anuja Jaiswal, Why people in Mainpuri are hooked on Mulayam, April 22, 2019: The Times of India

Mainpuri is not just a place. It’s also a brand, one of the very few to have swayed tobacco lovers across the border as well. In fact, after garlic, a concoction of local Kapuri tobacco, betel nuts and flavouring agents — known outside as just “Mainpuri” — is the most profitable export from the district. It has also featured in a song, Khaike Mainpuri Tambakoo, from the late-’80s B-grade Hindi movie Dilruba Tangewali. The flip side, that it has been identified as a potent carcinogenic agent, putting the district prominently on the WHO cancer map, and that it is now banned even in Pakistan, has had hardly any impact. Sales are yet brisk. People in Mainpuri are hooked on it, just like they are on Mulayam Dadda.

In Delhi or Lucknow he may be Netaji, or MSY in the English media, but on the streets of Manipuri he is Mulayam Dadda (big brother). That’s the kind of affection the 79-year-old commands among people who elected him as an MLA for the first time in 1967, when he was just 28 and teaching at Jain Inter College in the district’s Karhal tehsil. His ancestral village, Saifai, is a few kilometres away. No wonder that at the Friday rally here, which also featured BSP chief Mayawati, when he got up to announce that this was going to be his last election and sought support one last time on April 23, a wave of emotion swept the Christian College ground in Mainpuri town.

After his 1967 win from the district’s Jaswantnagar assembly seat, Mulayam had almost had an uninterrupted run till 1993, broken just once, by his college mate in the Congress camp — Balram Singh Yadav — in 1980. In 1996, when he decided to contest the Lok Sabha election, he looked no further and became an MP from Mainpuri, his karmaboomi since his school days.

Mainly an agrarian district, unemployment is a big issue here, but the youths appear to already have a job in hand: to make Dadda’s last hurrah emphatic.

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