The role of ‘rokda’ (cash) is key in any election these days. The more you spend, the higher your chances of winning.
But that was not the case with late Ramesh Chandra Kureel, a tailor who won the Manikpur seat in southern Uttar Pradesh in 1977—on less than Rs 12.
Kureel, born in Gokhia village in Banda district, had a knack of helping people and he was well connected at the ground level, making him immensely popular in the region, his youngest son Satya Gyan recalled.
Just after Emergency, the anger against ruling Congress was at its peak and Janata Party was looking for candidates to contest from Manikpur seat. The party’s state organisation secretary and some workers approached Kureel with the role, but he flatly refused, saying he didn’t have the money to even file the nomination.
That is when Jaiveer Singh, an MLC from teachers’ constituency, came forward and happily donated Rs 12 and promised more.
Kureel then filed his nomination and people campaigned for him on bicycles, leading to his victory, said Raj Bai, his wife.
He polled 51.12% votes against 36% of Congress candidate Shiromani.
Raj Bai added that her husband saved Rs 1.50, which he returned to Jaiveer.
After winning the election, Kureel called on Jaiveer and presented him the account of expenses.
“Total eight rupees and 50 paisa was spent on nomination and campaigning, Rs 2 went on travel to Lucknow. This is the remaining 1 rupee 50 paisa for you to keep,” recalled Durgesh Yadav, a lawyer and family friend of Kureel.
Kureel remained an MLA till 1980. He didn’t contest the next election and returned to what he did best—stitching clothes, for the deprived section. Till he passed away in 2013, he remained associated with a body that provided clothes to the poor.
In 1991, some BJP leaders reached out to him and made him the chairman of the Mandi Parishad. He served for a year but didn’t like the job and went back to stitching.
Kureel is no more, but people still remember him for his election campaign, and the Rs 12 on which he won the polls.