The BJP retained the Sikandra Assembly seat of bandit Phoolan Devi fame in a bypoll on Sunday by a margin of over 11,000 votes. According to the Uttar Pradesh chief electoral officer’s office, BJP’s Ajit Singh Pal secured 73,284 votes (44.86 per cent), while his nearest rival, Seema Sachan of the Samajwadi Party (SP), bagged 61,423 votes (37.60 per cent). The victory margin of the BJP candidate was 11,861 votes. Prabhakar Pandey of the Congress secured 19,084 votes. While the SP and Congress had contested the state Assembly polls, held earlier this year, in an alliance, the two parties had decided to go alone in the bypoll. The scene turned ugly during the counting of votes today after the SP and Congress candidates and their agents claimed that the seals of the electronic voting machines (EVMs) were broken. They alleged that the authorities had deliberately tampered with the machines to ensure the BJP nominee’s win.
Superintendent of Police (SP) Ratan Kant Pandey, however, denied that there was any disturbance during the counting of votes. “The SP and Congress candidates twice attempted to create a nuisance, claiming that the seals of the EVMs were broken. The EVMs had three seals and all of those, including the presiding officer’s seal, were intact,” he said. On December 21, braving a cold weather, nearly 53 per cent of the total 3.21 lakh eligible voters had exercised their franchise in the bypoll. The Sikandra constituency falls under the Kanpur Dehat district, a place which had gained notoriety after the 1981 Behmai massacre of 21 upper caste Rajputs by “bandit queen” Phoolan Devi and her gang to avenge her rape.
Phoolan Devi had surrendered before the police in 1983. After completing her jail term, she had successfully contested the 1996 Lok Sabha election on an SP ticket and became an MP from Mirzapur. The bandit-turned- politician was shot dead by masked gunmen outside her Delhi residence on July 25, 2001.
The Sikandra bypoll was necessitated following the death of its sitting BJP MLA, Mathura Prasad Pal, on July 22. In the Assembly polls, Pal had polled 87,879 votes, defeating his nearest Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) rival, Mahendra Katiyar (Bablu), who had secured 49,776 votes. A total of 12 candidates were in the fray in the bypoll, including five independents.