The poll battle in the Mariyahu assembly constituency of Jaunpur, 250 km from Lucknow, has a Bollywoodish plot. The BJP candidate of the area, Malti Dubey, 50, is the widow of the man who was allegedly murdered by the Apna Dal nominee from the same place, jailed gangster Munna Bajrangi alias Prem Prakash Singh.
In 1996, Dubey’s husband Kailash, who was then block president of Rampur was shot dead allegedly at the instance of Bajrangi. The story goes that Kailash was popular in the area and Bajrangi had sought to establish his supremacy by eliminating him.
While two of her husband's killers have been convicted, the case against Bajrangi, currently in Tihar jail, is still on.
“People can understand my agony. They know what happened to my husband,” says the ghoonghat-clad Dubey as she strides down purposefully through the lanes and by-lanes of her constituency.
Dubey, a matriculate, had contested as an independent candidate in 1996 after her husband's death and lost by 5,000 votes. Her three sons, however, are not part of the electioneering.
She starts campaigning at 9am with her brother-in-law Kaushal. She visits houses, meets people, especially the women folk and the elderly, for over ten hours every day, and also interacts with her core group of supporters at home.
Kaushal is quick to rubbish the vendetta angle in this poll battle. "My brother Kailash was popular. We want one of our family members to represent the people here."