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Pilibhit has emerged as a Sanjay Gandhi-family stronghold over last decade. And Maneka is in the fray here, but with a difference.

india Updated: Apr 04, 2004 15:35 IST

The sleepy constituency of Pilibhit in Uttar Pradesh, made big by high-profile animal rights activist and former Union minister Maneka Gandhi, Pilibhit has emerged as a Sanjay Gandhi-family stronghold over last decade. And she is in the fray once here, but with a difference.

This time, she is a BJP candidate and not a BJP-supported nominee as in 1999.

Wife of Sanjay Gandhi of Nehru-Gandhi family, Maneka fought as a BJP-backed independent in 1999 and drubbed her nearest rival Anis Ahmad Khan of BSP by 2,39,855 votes. She had polled 4,33,421 votes in an otherwise 9-cornered contest. She had won the seat in 1989, 1996 and 1998 also but lost narrowly in 1991.

However, she may have a cakewalk this time as she has formally joined BJP alongwith his son Varun. The 25-year-old Varun, the only real Indira-Nehru connection of BJP, is already making waves with his oratory on different saffron platforms across the country.

The constituency's more than 11 lakh voters comprise Muslims (19%), Scheduled Castes (19%), Kisans/Lodhs (17%), Kurmis (9%) and Kachis/Muraos and Brahmins around (6%) each. Kahars, Rajputs and Vaishyas are also found in sizable numbers. Chamars (8%), Dhobis (3%) and Pasis (3%) are dominant among the scheduled castes.

The seat was won by ML Aggarwal of Congress in 1952 and by Mohan Swaraup of Congress in 1962, 1967 and 1971 while MSH Khan of BLD won it in 1977.