UP polls: Upper caste Thakurs dominate poll fray in Phoolan land

Last Updated: Fri, Feb 24, 2012 06:41 hrs

Sheikhpur Gorha (Jalaun): For an outsider, it could just be another non-descript village with tell-tale signs of deprivation and desperation in the badlands of Uttar Pradesh riven by caste divides.

The nearest hospital and high school are ten kilometres away and there is anger in the village, which falls in Kalpi assembly constituency, against SP and BSP as identity politics has let the area wallow in poverty.

However, remember slain bandit-turned-politician Phoolan Devi, who was born and brought up here, and you find out how her larger-than-life image hangs over the village, dominated by members of downtrodden Nishad (boatmen) and Pal (shepherd) castes, and her appeal remains intact as a unifying image even more than a decade after her assassination in faraway Delhi.

Ironically, all the candidates put up by major political parties Congress, SP, BSP and BJP for the ongoing assembly polls in Kalpi constituency belong to upper caste Thakur --Umakanti Chauhan, Sanjay Singh Bhaudaria, Vishnpal Singh and Swatantra Dev Singh.

It was in this village falling under Kalpi that Phoolan had allegedly killed 22 upper caste Thakurs in March, 1981 that came to be known as the infamous Behmai massacre, in an apparent retaliation to her gang-rape.

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