India Today Politics

India Today
March 16, 1998



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COVER STORY
Winners of 1998

G I A N T  K I L L E R S
A David for every Goliath

Sompal Singh ShastriSOMPAL SINGH SHASTRI, 60, BJP
Baghpat, Uttar Pradesh
Electorate: 12.9 lakh
Margin of victory: 44,370
Beat Ajit Singh, Congress

Talk about confidence. Shastri was so assured of victory that he joined the BJP on the condition he could challenge Ajit in his "impregnable citadel". Talk about misplaced confidence. Ajit was so cocksure of Jat support in his late father Charan Singh's constituency that often he urged them not to cast more than 90 per cent of their votes. And while Ajit forgot that Sompal commanded Jat respect, Sompal never forgot to tell the voters, "Once Ajit wins he will sell your votes by joining another party." Mission Impossible was underway.

Agenda: Create an industrial paradise.

Ayanur ManjunathAYANUR MANJUNATH, 42, BJP
Shimoga, Karnataka
Electorate: 11.07 lakh
Margin of victory: 1.59 lakh
Beat S Bangarappa, KVP

Shimoga has been Bangarappa's backyard for three decades. Nothing moved without his consent. Except for one dogged man who has kept trying to make a difference. Manju anna -- as they call him -- worked his way up from a student leader (ABVP) to a union leader and went on to become the district BJP chief at a time when the party didn't carry weight. He lost the 1996 election but this time, his RSS organisational skills -- insisting on 10 supporters in every booth -- proved crucial.

Agenda: To do something urgent about the sick paper mills in Shimoga.

 Nakli SinghNAKLI SINGH, 60, BJP
Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh
Electorate: 12.3 lakh
Margin of victory: 69,810
Beat Kanshi Ram, BSP

It took a lone college teacher in this land of farms, furniture and kidnappings to do what the Uttar Pradesh government could never do: humble BSP supremo Kanshi Ram. Nakli Singh, one of the old guards of the Sangh Parivar who hangs on to his Lok Sabha seat, publicly opposes caste politics but his influence in his Gujjar community is unmatched. A career RSS worker, Singh also has Rashid Masood of the Samajwadi Party to thank for drawing away Muslim votes that Kanshi Ram was banking on.

Agenda: General development.

 

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