At Bissar Akbarpur village in Nuh's Tauru tehsil, a group of men gathered at a tea shop Thursday afternoon to discuss the two jansabhas that took place earlier in the day - one addressed by Rao Inderjit Singh, the incumbent MP and BJP candidate from Gurgaon, and the other by Captain Ajay Singh Yadav, the Congress contender.
Hours earlier, Singh referred to national issues, aligning himself with the BJP's emphasis of the need to "strengthen" the country, which he claimed "only Narendra Modi can do". Yadav contradicted this, asking "where the chowkidar was sleeping" when the Pulwama attack took place. While Singh urged people to "give your vote for the country" and not waste it on "personal problems" with MLAs, zila parishad or panchayat, Yadav spoke of unemployment, increasing expenses, and the tendency of the BJP to pide people "over caste and religion" - in the name of "Ram", "Ganga", and "gaumata". He said the Congress was "the only party" that would "take everyone along".
At the tea shop, the conversation among residents indicated that though Singh was facing immense anti-incumbency sentiment, his pitch found a resonance. "We admire what Modi did with Pakistan and the Balakot strikes. It made the world more cautious when it came to dealing with us. It is because of those strikes that even China had to back down over Masood Azhar. They did not want to risk angering Modi," said Om Prakash, who retired from the Navy several years ago and is now engaged in farming.
Others reiterated this, crediting BJP and the PM for bolstering the country's "self-respect".
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Yadav, in his speech at the jansabha, had alleged that "this is the first time" Singh was visiting the village. Asked about the allegation, residents confirmed it, and the conversation shifted to their disappointment with the MP.
"There are six roads that have been built in the village since he came to power, but those were initiated by our local MLA. The MP has never visited. The last time he came was also during elections," said Rajbir, a labourer. "Water and electricity is fine, but there is a massive drainage problem. The village practically drowns during monsoon. A building for a dispensary was built but nobody was appointed to run it."
Residents say that the closest hospital is "around 5 km away", but reaching there is a problem in the absence of a bus service.
Atar Singh, a bus driver, said, "We also need a hospital for animals. When cattle fall sick, we have to call a doctor from outside."