Elections in India’s most populous state are always a colourful affair with plenty of bizarre shock-and-awe moments for poll watchers. The seven-phase assembly polls that kick off from Saturday are no different. Here are the five craziest stories to come out of vote-swept Uttar Pradesh so far.
Candidate kills brother to win sympathy votes.
People are known to go great distances to win elections in the heartland: Capture poll booths, bribe voters, knock off rivals. Manoj Kumar Gautam kept it straight and simple. On February 8, three days before the first phase of elections in UP, the young Rashtriya Lok Dal candidate from Khurja constituency in Meerut hired a couple of shooters to kill his brother and a friend.
He had very little time to woo the voters, Gautam told the police after the bodies were discovered from a Mango orchard the next day. What right-thinking citizen wouldn’t be compelled to vote for the candidate whose brother was killed by his enemies on the eve of the election? Gautam will no longer have a chance to find out.
Candidate beats himself with his shoe to get attention
On January 29, Shujat “viral” Alam, a Samajwadi Party-Congress candidate from Bulandshahr began to lash himself with his own shoe in the middle of making a speech. There is more drama in the 15-second clip from Alam’s rally than a mid-1980s’ Sunny Deol movie. One moment, Alam is holding the edges of kurta above his belly as he begs for votes. The next moment, he is inviting the public to beat him if he has “made a mistake.” Throughout this madness, his supporters jump up and down the stage as if high on something stronger than their love for their leader. It’s all a part of Alam’s method, it turns out. This is how he explained it to the media: Kya karein sahib, public aaj kal jokers ko pasand karti hai (What to do, the public these days likes only jokers).”
Candidate confesses to fighting election for money
One of the best things about UP is that its people don’t hold back their thoughts. It’s in this spirit of frankness that Gopal Chaudhary, independent candidate from Agra South, told everyone his reason for fighting the election: money. “Everyone enters politics to earn money and build their houses. I will do the same,” Chaudhary said in a televised interview.
He also let the whole world know that his political game is inspired by none other than Narendra Modi himself. “A man becomes a prime minister by duping a nation of 125 crore people. He must have some talent. I will follow the footsteps.”
Husband and wife face off for an assembly seat
Two old rivals are facing off in Shohratgarh assembly seat along UP’s border with Nepal: A man from SP-Congress and his wife from the BJP. This is the second time Raveendra Pratap Chaudhary, a two-time former BJP MLA in his happily-married days, and Sadhana Chaudhary, a BJP old-timer, will fight an election against each other. Whatever their differences, the attitude with which they have hit the arena is the same: placid. “Stop making it a husband-wife thing,” says the husband. “Elections are fought between parties not couples,” says the wife.
Donkey is denied the right to file nomination for a seat
The chief ministerial candidate of Bahujan Vijay Party, a flower-bedecked donkey by the name of Gardabh Singh Yadav, was stopped from filing his nomination papers for being a donkey. His party did not take the insult lightly. The party president made the compelling argument that if fighting an election in this country doesn’t require a candidate to be particularly smart or talented, then why exclude donkeys from the process of democracy.