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|September 20, 1999||
Kurmis will decide who represents Kheri in Parliament
Caste has always played a vital role in Kheri's politics, which is evident from the fact that out of the 13 Lok Sabha elections here, Kurmi candidates have won 10.
This time, sitting MP Ravi Prakash Verma of the Samajwadi Party, former minister Rajendra Gupta of the Bharatiya Janata Party, Girish Chandra Maurya of the Bahujan Samaj Party and Tej Narain Trivedi of the Congress are locked in a 13-cornered contest here.
Polling in Kheri is scheduled for September 25.
There are four Independents in the fray besides Baldev Verma (JD-S) Ehsan Hussain Rizvi of the Akhil Bharatiya Berojgar Party, Purshottam Sharma of the CPI-ML, Rajendra of Apana Dal and Shil Srivastava of the Republican Party of India.
This is the first time CPI-ML and RPI candidates have jumped into the electoral fray in Kheri.
The Samajwadi Party has fielded a Kurmi, Ravi Prakash Verma, while the BJP has replaced its Kurmi candidate Dr G L Kanojia, a former MP, with an outsider from Sitapur district, Rajendra Kumar Gupta. A former state BJP president and a former finance minister, Gupta can be a formidable candidate.
Obviously concerned by his opponent's attempt to label him an outsider, Gupta has declared that even if he loses, he would remain in Lakhimpur and work for the uplift of the people of the district.
BSP nominee Girish Chandra Maurya is a businessman from Lucknow, although he claims to belong to this district. He is banking on the 290,000 strong scheduled caste vote bank.
Tej Narain Trivedi, an active Congressman since 1952, has won several assembly elections. In 1996 he secured 44,823 votes from Kheri and is banking upon the 222,000 Brahmin voters in this constituency.
The 185,000 Muslims are quiet about their choice. When SP chief Mulayam Singh visited Lakhimpur in August, their turnout at his rally was low. However, Muslims turned up in sizeable numbers to listen to BSP vice-president Mayawati.
Some of them say they would vote for the party which is in a position to defeat the BJP.
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