UP Polls: Duryodhan wants to reclaim Hastinapur, Jawaharlal in Phulpur

Duryodhan and Narad as well as Nehruji and Zulfikar Bhuto — one may think mythical heroes and historical leaders are fighting the Uttar Pradesh polls, if one goes by the list of candidates.

In the fray are a variety of namesakes, which includes that of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and his bete noire Amar Singh, whose name figures in the list of three parties in four constituencies.

Not just mythical characters or former Prime Ministers’ figure in the list, namesakes of sportspersons like Kapil Dev and artistes like Irfan Khan and Arshad Warsi and singer Mohd Rafi are also contesting.

Akhilesh, the Chief Minister and Samajwadi Party chief, is not contesting as his tenure as Member of Legislative Council (MLC) ends only in 2018 but the party has fielded his namesake from Mubarakpur.

Rajya Sabha MP Amar Singh, once a close confidante of SP patriarch Mulayam Singh Yadav and now expelled from SP, is also not contesting but his name sakes are fighting under the banner of BJP (Kaimganj), CPI-M (Etawah and Chandpur) and RLD (Kursi). Interestingly, one of them is fighting from Etawah, a stronghold of Mulayam.

The mention of 65-year-old candidate in Hastinapur, the mythical capital of Kauravas, also evokes interest. If the Kauravas under Duryodhan lost the war in Maharbharata, the new-age Duryodhan, a Bahujan Mukti Party candidate, is trying to recapture Hastinapur electorally.

Now, how can someone from the other side Pandavas be left out? An independent candidate Arjun, a 29-year-old agriculturist, is fighting from Bansi while 25-year-old Abhimanyu, a social worker, is also in the fray from Pipraich. Narad is BSP candidate from Ballinagar.

How can namesakes of political leaders be left behind. Jawaharlal, Charan Singh, Atal Bihari and V P Singh are also in the fray.

It is not only in name that 40-year-old NCP candidate Jawaharlal echoes the country’s first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru. The NCP nominee is fighting from Phulpur Assembly constituency, which is part of Phulpur Parliamentary seat that Nehru represented thrice.

Independent candidate in Shikohabad Ramprakash Yadav goes by the petname ‘Nehruji’. Charan Singh, country’s Prime Minister for a brief period in post-Emergency era, also has a 64-year-old namesake in Naugawan Sadat while V P Singh, another former Prime Minister, also has a namesake in Meerut Cantt.

Atal Bihari, who goes by the first name of A B Vajpayee, is the contestant in Etmadpur. Bhutto is a BSP candidate from Agra South.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 6, 2017)

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Money, muscle still rule Indian politics? UP polls say so

The number of candidates with serious criminal charges fighting the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections have risen despite a slump in number of contestants falling by around 1,600.

Same is the case with crorepati candidates, if one goes by the statistics provided by private election watchdog Association for Democratic Rights (ADR) about 4,823 of the 4,853 candidates. It once again underscores the worrying trend of continuing influence of muscle-men and money in electoral battles.

At the same time, the number of women candidates witnessed a decrease from 527 in 2012 to 445 this time.

There are 704 or 14.59% of the 4,823 candidates with serious criminal cases like rape and murder registered against them. Proportion wise this was almost double compared to 2012 polls — 8.45% (557) of 6,590 candidates had serious charges.

Of the 704, candidates with murder charges 62 while there were 148 who had attempt to murder cases against them. Thirty-eight candidates were slapped cases relating to crime against women, ten of them were accused of rape.

BSP had the highest number of 123 candidates with serious criminal charges followed by BJP 100, Samajwadi Party 88, RLD 48, Congress 25 and 134 independents.

The analysis showed that 152 (38%) of the 403 constituencies had three or more candidates with declared criminal cases.

When it comes to wealthy contestants, 1,457 (30%) were crorepatis this time compared to 1,319 (20%) in the previous Assembly polls. The average of assets per candidate is Rs 1.91 crore this time.

In this category also, BSP is on top of the list with 335 (84%) candidates followed by BJP 302 (79%), Samajwadi Party 243 (79%), RLD 99 (36%), Congress 75 (66%) and independents 182 (13%) among others.

Congress’ Agra South candidate Nazir Ahamad is the richest candidate with Rs 211.47 crore followed by BSP’s Mubarakpur candidate Shah Alam (Rs 118.76 crore) and BJP’s Mant nominee Satish Kumar Sharma (Rs 114.29 crore).

Thirteen candidates had declared “zero” assets. There are 411, which excludes contestants with zero assets, candidates who have declared assets below Rs 1 lakh.

Looking at the age profile, the analysis said, there were 3,334 (69%) candidates between 25 and 50 years while 1,440 (30%) were between 51 and 80 years. Seven candidates have declared they are more than 80 years old.

It also said 1,991 (41%) candidates have declared their educational qualification to be between Class V pass and Class XII pass, while 2,299 (48%) candidates have declared having an educational qualification of graduate and above. The analysis also showed that 356 (7%) candidates have declared themselves to be just literate and 54 candidates are illiterates.

(An edited version appeared in Deccan Herald on Mar 6, 2017)

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