Since independence, Kesses Constituency, formerly under Eldoret South, has always elected MPs for only one term, save for Joseph Misoi, who successfully defended his seat using the Kanu ticket in 1992.
Current MP, Swarup Mishra, has exuded confidence that, like Misoi, he will break the one-term jinx and get re-elected.
“My only strategy is love for the people I serve because they show love in return and, of course, development projects I have accomplished because that is why we are elected,” says Dr Mishra, who identifies himself as Kiprop arap Chelule.
In the 2017 elections, then MP James Bett became the latest victim of the jinx, as Mishra beat him on a Jubilee ticket.
Other leaders who have led the constituency are Justin Tuwei, Charles Changwony, Wilson Korir, Jesse Maiz, David Koros and Peris Simam.
Mishra, the owner of Mediheal Group of Hospitals, has abandoned his Jubilee party and is defending the seat as an independent candidate.
The race will not be a walk in the park for him, given that he is running path independently in an area considered a stronghold for United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate William Ruto.
His closest rival is UDA candidate Julius Rutto, who is the former Uasin Gishu County’s Finance executive. Other candidates are Alex Kemboi and Stephen Teigut, who are also on independent tickets.
The MP says he chose to vie on an independent ticket after much deliberation.
“Time, scenarios and priorities change and so do people’s choices. I could not find a party of preference, so I opted for an independent ticket. However, being independent does not make anyone less of a leader,” he says.
Mishra has on several occasions asked his constituents to forgive him if they feel offended by his decision to run as an independent candidate, which many have interpreted as dumping the deputy ppresident.
“Forgive me, I am your son. I am your brother. I am your father, and we have to work together,” said Mishra at Kesses Centre.
Mishra, a philanthropist, has touched the hearts of his constituents through his initiatives that have seen many women receive dairy cows, farm inputs and youth get scholarships and capital to boost their businesses.
But Rutto dismisses his rival’s acts of generosity as promoting a culture of handouts.
He says the MP has been good at launching projects that are left unattended as soon as the launch is done.
“My competitor has been good at unleashing handouts. The youth have changed from being proactive to being dependent on handouts. We do not want a society where youths are being enticed by money instead of their hustles being promoted to enable them grow in meaningful ventures,” says Rutto.
He believes he is the best bet for Kesses, saying he will bring a positive change to the constituency’s leadership.
I have the privilege of being born and bred in Kesses and therefore have the advantage of understanding the needs of the people.
Rutto says he could be a green horn in politics, given it is his first time to vie for a political seat, but he is not new to serving people.
“As a CEC, I understood service delivery to the people. The position gave me an opportunity to interact with many people and I witnessed the introduction of the second generation county integrated development plan, which spells out the real areas of priority for the people. I will abide by that as a leader,” he says.
Rutto says he will focus on education, women, and youth empowerment and will take advantage of UDA’s bottom-up economic model to help many young people transform their lives.
He said he will also work on infrastructure, including roads and health facilities and ensure access to clean water.
Whereas Rutto rides on the UDA wave, Mishra has used his resources to traverse the region in convoys, flaunting his complete projects.
Last month, the DP asked his supporters not to re-elect Mishra, claiming that he had turned against him after supporting him in the last elections.
“When we shall be sending Azimio leader Raila Odinga to Bondo in August, leaders, including Mishra, should be voted out. We gave him votes in 2017 but he has since become full of pride and arrogance,” said Dr Ruto
Before the DP’s rally, the Kenya Kwanza brigade had blasted Mishra for shunning UDA, which is the most popular party in the Rift Valley region.
Mishra, however, says he has no problem with Ruto, and has been asking his constituents to vote for him for the top seat.