Call them spoilers but these candidates are enjoying their time in the limelight
Political pundits foresee no favourable outcome for them, for the masses they barely qualify as “leaders” and mainstream parties dismiss them as “spoilers”, but for the independent contestants challenging BJP’s Narendra Modi in Varanasi, this election is their ticket to fame.
In a city where the fight is largely considered to be a contest between Mr. Modi and the Aam Aadmi Party’s Arvind Kejriwal, these independent candidates are making news for their peculiarities — an Osama look alike, kin of brigand Veerappan, a transgender and a habitual contestant eager to create history for losing the maximum number of times.
The first to file nomination as independent candidate, Kamla Kinnar, a transgender, has dared “outsiders” Mr. Modi and his archrival Mr. Kejriwal.
Elated by the Supreme Court’s recent decision to identify the transgenders as the “third gender”, Kamala’s fight is for securing a better life for the community.
Meraj Khalid Noor, who resembles the former Al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, also wants to test his luck at the hustings. He says his decision to contest from Varanasi is not to seek attention, but to check “communal forces” that he claims are gaining space in the country.
A resident of Patna, the Osama-look alike was in the limelight when he campaigned for BJP ally Ramvilas Paswan’s LJP and Lalu Prasad’s RJD in Bihar in the last elections. Mr. Noor, who makes a conscious effort to dress like the former Al-Qaeda boss, has floated his own party christened “Rashtriya Awami Movement (RAM) India”. The similarity between him and Osama he says is limited to their looks and does not extend to their principles.
P.N. Sriramachandran, nephew of deceased sandalwood smuggler Veerappan, has thrown his hat into the ring too. Bearing a striking resemblance to his “uncle” and sporting a moustache like the brigand, Sriramachandran is challenging Mr. Modi and is also taking on Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi in Amethi.
His entry into electoral politics is to “fulfill the dream” of his slain uncle who harboured political aspirations.
Also in the race is Narendra Nath Dubey, also known as Adig, of the Janshakti Ekta Party. He has contested elections since 1984 and lost every one of them; but Mr. Adig hit the headlines when the signatures of 50 Members of Parliament endorsing his nomination for the 2012 Presidential election were found to be faked.
Mr. Adig who insists that the signatures were not faked is a lawyer by training and aspires to find a place in the Guinness Book of World Records for losing the maximum number of elections.
The district election office has so far sold nomination forms to 42 candidates. They include Indira Tiwari of Trinamool Congress, Ajay Rai of Congress, Kailash Chaurasia of Samajwadi Party, Ananjay Mishra of Apna Dal (Backward), Shyam Bhartiya of Gharib Aadmi Party, Shiv Vir Singh of Nirdhan Samaj Party of India and Rajesh Bhartiya Surya of Rashtriya Ambedkar Dal, among several others.