In the fourth phase of the Uttar Pradesh elections, the hotbed for farmers protests, Lakhimpur Kheri has gone for polls today. Lakhimpur Kheri caught the national attention in October 2021 when a car, belonging to the convoy of Union minister Ajay Mishra Teni, ran over eight people including four farmers. The polling in Kheri will put the prestige of Mishra's fate at stake as the people here are yet to come to terms with the killings of the farmers. Mishra is a local MP and became the centre of controversy after his son, Ashish Mishra, was named in the FIR in the incident leading to the death of the farmers. The incident had also fired up debate in the political and social sectors of the country.
Major candidates in the electoral fray include sitting MLA Yogesh Verma from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), former MLA Utkarsh Verma from the Samajwadi Party (SP), Mohan Bajpai from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Dr Ravi Shankar Trivedi from the Congress. While Aam Admi Party (AAP) has fielded Khushi Kinnar, AIMIM’s Mohammad Usman Siddiqui is also in the fray.
Interestingly, both BJP and SP have repeated their candidates this year. Earlier in 2017, BJP’s Yogesh Verma had won the Lakhimpur seat by defeating SP’s Utkarsh Verma Madhur with a formidable margin of more than 37,000 votes. The BJP had swept all the seats in the district in 2017. Prior to that, in 2012, Utkarsh Verma ha won the seat defeating BSP’s Gyan Prakash Bajpai. The SP has won the elections four times from the Kheri seat since 1977, whereas the BJP has won thrice.
The Kheri Lok Sabha seat constitutes eight Assembly constituencies including Mohammadi, Gola Gokarannath, Kasta, Lakhimpur, Srinagar, Nighasan, Dhaurahara, and Palia Kalan. A total of 28,02,835 will cast their vote out of which there are 14,95,069 are male voters and 13,07,623 are female voters. As many as 42,911 will be voting for the first time in the constituency.
Lakhimpur Kheri violence
As many as eight people, including four farmers, were killed on October 3 after an SUV, belonging to Ajay Mishra's convoy, ran over them. The incident happened when farmers were protesting in Banbirpur village near Tikunia against the contentious farm laws that were passed by the Centre in September 2020. The protestors were blocking state deputy chief minister Keshav Prasad Maurya's visit to Banbirpur village. Black flags were shown by the protesting farmers.
Following the incident, politicians and activists expressed their utter dissatisfaction over the “brutal murder” of the demonstrators. Ashish Mishra, who was later arrested, was recently granted bail.