Varanasi: Election authorities have rejected nomination papers of 34 candidates out of 78 contestants in this high-profile Lok Sabha seat, leaving 44 persons in the fray including BJP`s Narendra Modi and AAP`s Arvind Kejriwal.
The filing of nominations for this constituency, going for polls on May 12, ended yesterday.
Following scrutiny of all nominations today, the election office said the candidature of 34 persons have been rejected which included independent P N Ramchandran, nephew of late sandalwood smuggler Veerappan.
Interestingly, the nomination of Meraj Khalid Noor, a lookalike of slain al-Qaeda chief Osama Bin Laden, has also been rejected.
Varanasi saw one of the highest number of nominations in this Lok Sabha election while it can still make to the record books if remaining 44 candidates continue in the contest. The last date for withdrawal of nominations is April 28.
Among those with valid nominations include BJP`s prime ministerial candidate Modi, Congress` Ajay Rai, Samajwadi Party`s Kailash Nath Chaurasiya, BSP`s Vijay Prakash Jaiswal, CPM`s Heera Lal Yadav and AAP`s Kejriwal.
Trinamool Congress` Indira Tiwari, Jan Shakti Ekta Party`s Narendra Nath Dubey Adig and transgender Baseer Kinnar are also among those whose nominations have been accepted.
There are a total of 20 independent candidates now in the poll fray along with 19 from state parties or smaller outfits and five from national parties.
Besides Modi, two other Narendras remain in fray while nomination of one Narendra (Sharma) has been rejected.