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'I am true challenger to prime minister'

By Nistula Hebbar in Lucknow
May 05, 2004 21:10 IST
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In all the drama surrounding the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-Ram Jethmalani contest, what slipped by unnoticed was the challenge thrown by Madhu Gupta, Samajwadi Party candidate from the Lucknow Lok Sabha seat.

Gupta, a well known gynaecologist who studied at Delhi's Lady Hardings Hospital, has from day one unwaveringly posed a challenge, albeit a weak one to the prime minister.

Reportedly close to Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav due to her family ties, she asked for the ticket from Lucknow well aware she was going to lose. "I love challenges, and I am going to prove my political worth," she said.

Gupta returned to Lucknow after working for a few years with the National Health Service of Britain in London.

Her clinic is patronised by the rich and affluent of Lucknow. She shot to fame, when she contested the mayoral elections in 2000 against S C Rai of the Bharatiya Janata Party. She lost, according to her, because 21,000 votes were declared invalid.

"Jethmalani will lose for sure, but I am the true challenger to the prime minister,"' she said. In a constituency dwarfed by the stature of its contestants, this in itself is a tall claim to make. Her appeal, she said, was in the fact that she was a commoner.

"I can move among the people, while people are locked away from view when these other leaders appear,"' she said.

In fact, her posters and hoardings compete for space with that of Vajpayee. While she is deferential towards Vajpayee, she does not spare any words while talking of Jethmalani.

"How do you think Congress supporters are going to vote for him if he is not fighting under the Congress symbol, in fact they should have let Akhilesh Das fight the polls," she said. "Most people here are illiterate, how are they going to identify the candle symbol with Jethmalani," she remarked.


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Nistula Hebbar in Lucknow