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And then there were 6: against 41, meet those in the Varanasi race against PM Modi | News from the political pulse

And then there were 6: against 41, meet those in the Varanasi race against PM Modi |  News from the political pulse


As Prime Minister Narendra Modi contests his third election to the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, there are six candidates left in the fray against him, including Congress state president Ajay Rai.

In 2014, when Modi first contested from Varanasi and became prime minister, he won by 3.72 lakh votes, or 56.37% of the vote, against second-placed Arvind Kejriwal of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). In 2019, when Modi won the seat again and his government returned to power at the Centre, the Prime Minister's margin of victory increased to 4.59 lakh votes, or 63.6% of the votes against his nearest rival Shalini Yadav of the Samajwadi Party.

While in 2014, 41 candidates contested against Modi, including 19 independents, in 2019, 26 candidates contested against the prime minister, including eight independents.

This time, 41 candidates initially filed their nomination papers for the Varanasi constituency, out of which one withdrew on his own. Seven candidates ultimately made it through the selection process.

The final phase of voting for Varanasi will take place on June 1, three days before the results are announced.

Festive offer

Since 1991, the BJP has won the seat seven times, losing it only once, in 2004, to Rajesh Kumar Mishra of the Congress. In 2009, before Modi chose the constituency to make his Lok Sabha debut, it was won by BJP stalwart Murli Manohar Joshi.

The majority of voters in the constituency are upper caste Hindus, including Brahmins, Bhumihars and Jaiswals, followed by Muslims and OBCs.

A look back at the six remaining in the race:

Ajay Rai (53), Congress (part of INDIA bloc)

Movable property : Rs 6.66 million; Spouse: Rs 45.37 lakh

Real estate assets: Rs 1.25 crore; Spouse: Rs 80 lakh

Number of cases: 18

Former leader of the region, with a strongman image and several cases against him in the state, Rai is running as a candidate from the INDIA bloc, on the Congress symbol. Although he also contested and lost largely in the 2009, 2014 and 2019 elections in Varanasi, he remains Modi's most formidable challenger in the race.

Rai had contested in 2014 and 2019 on the Congress ticket, and in 2009 on the SP ticket. Each time, he finished third.

The 53-year-old is also a five-time MLA, four times from Kolasla seat and once from Pindra. He won against Kolasla thrice on the BJP symbol and once as an independent. He was the Congress MLA from Pindra Assembly seat in Varanasi from 2012 to 2017.

In August last year, the Congress appointed Rai as Uttar Pradesh president, replacing former Rajya Sabha member Brijlal Khabri.

Ather Jamal Lari (70 years old), Bahujan Samaj party

Movable property : Rs 6.52 million; Spouse: Rs 3.31 lakh

Real estate assets: Rs 1.8 crore; Spouse: zero

Number of cases: 1

A resident of Varanasi and loom owner, Lari has been associated with socialist politics since the 1960s and is a veteran of several elections in Varanasi, without ever winning.

A student leader who won the union elections in 1971 at DAV Inter College in Gorakhpur, he was among the political leaders forced into hiding during the Emergency, Lari told The Indian Express. In 1977, he joined the Janata Party at its inception and later held positions within the party.

In 1984, Lari made his electoral debut from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat, on the Janata Party ticket, and lost. Then, in 1991, he contested for the Varanasi Cantt State Assembly seat for the Janata Dal and came second, losing by 5,000 votes to BJP's Jyotsana Srivastava. After the disintegration of the Janata Dal, Lari joined the Sone Lal Patel-led Apna Dal in 1995 and was made the state in-charge.

In 2004, Lari contested the Lok Sabha polls from Varanasi for the Apna Dal. He secured 14.73 per cent votes and came third, with Rajesh Kumar Mishra of Congress winning with 32.68 per cent votes. In 2012, Lari contested from the Varanasi (South) Assembly constituency for the Quami Ekta Dal led by politician-turned-gangster Mukhtar Ansari and again came third.

In the 2022 parliamentary elections, Lari supported the SP, but joined the BSP after the elections.

Kolisetty Shiva Kumar (46), Yuga Thulasi Party

Movable property : Rs 36.19 million; Spouse: Rs 45.90 lakh

Real estate assets: Rs 2.02 million; Spouse: Rs 1.97 crore

Number of cases: 0

A resident of Hyderabad, Shiva Kumar is a former board member of Tirumala Tirupati Devasthanams (a trust that manages temples, including the Tirumala Venkateswara Temple in Andhra Pradesh). Talk to The Indian Expresshe said he had worked on cow protection throughout his life and owned three gaushalas in Hyderabad, housing 1,500 cows.

According to Kumar, the main issue for him in the Varanasi election campaign is the demand that the central government declare the cow as the national animal of India. The BJP talks about Sanatan Dharma, but it does not implement anything, he said. The Indian Express.

Kumar claimed that he had come under heavy pressure from the BJP to withdraw his documents, including from its top leaders, and that election officials had also gone to great lengths to reject my candidature. He said a false complaint was then filed against him, leaving him unable to campaign for fear of arrest.

A police officer from Varanasi's Bhelupur police station said Kumar was booked in a case under IPC sections for fraud, cheating and criminal intimidation after a complaint was lodged by one Manju Devi according to which Kumar had named her as the nominator in his nomination papers without her knowledge. under the pretext of registering him for cow protection work. An investigation is underway, the police officer said.

Meanwhile, in Hyderabad, Shiva Kumar and the Yuga Thulasi Party have been in the news following complaints from the Bharat Rashtra Samithi (BRS) that its symbol is too similar to that of the BRS.

Gagan Prakash Yadav (39), Apna Dal candidate (Kameravadi)

Movable property : Rs 19.16 million; Spouse: Rs 14.25 lakh

Real estate assets: Rs 66 million; Spouse: Rs 10 lakh

Number of cases: 5

Yadav is a candidate of the Apna Dal (K) led by MP Pallavi Patel, who recently parted ways with the SP citing lack of representation of Dalits, backward and minority communities. The other faction of the Apna Dal, led by Pallavis' sister Anupriya, is a member of the BJP-led NDA.

Yadav's campaign has been at a standstill since he lost his brother in a road accident a few days ago. Apna Dal (K) district leader for Varanasi, Dileep Singh Patel, said: We could not reach him either.

Originally from the village of Bhatti, 4 km from the city of Varanasi, Yadav is seeking his first election at this level.

Patel said Yadav had been a part of the Apna Dal for several years and had always represented the interests of students and farmers. He has been a leader since his student days, while his wife is a member of the zila panchayat in Varanasi, Patel said.

Dinesh Kumar Yadav (39), independent

Movable property : Rs 16.40 million; Spouse’s assets: 0

Real estate assets: 10 million rupees; Spouse’s assets: 0

Number of cases: 0

Dinesh Kumar is a triple corporator from Sikraul, Varanasi, who has been active in politics for 15 years. Dinesh Kumar said The Indian Express that he was with the BJP until he filed the nomination from Varanasi and decided to contest according to the democratic principles of the country. I am fighting because there is democracy in the country, Yadav said.

BJP regional media in-charge (Kashi zone) Navratan Rathi denied that Dinesh Kumar was ever part of the party. I haven't heard that name, Rathi said.

Sanjay Kumar Tiwari (49), independent

Movable property : Rs 11.46 million; Spouse’s assets: 0

Real estate assets: 29 million rupees; Spouse’s assets: 0

Number of cases: 0

A New Delhi-based social worker, Tiwari said he has been part of movements for the welfare of workers and labourers. I was not directly associated with any party, but worked with them as an intellectual, he added.

On his decision to contest elections, Tiwari said, “I follow the Gandhian philosophy. I decided to contest from Varanasi because I am a critic of Prime Minister Modi.




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