The Bhumihars have expressed resentment over the poll pact between their community leader Ajay Rai and Mukhtar Ansari for the Varanasi parliamentary constituency. The police, on the other hand, expect their “friendship” with a common agenda — preventing BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from winning — to impact the crime scenario in Poorvanchal or eastern Uttar Pradesh.
Formerly of the BJP, bahubali (strongman) Rai is the Congress candidate for Varanasi. Mafioso turned politician Ansari, contesting the Ghosi seat in Mau as a Quami Ekta Dal candidate, withdrew his candidature before deciding to support Rai.
The decision has not gone down well with the Bhumihars, as Ansari is an accused in the murder of community leader and BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai on 29 November 2005. Many are surprised by the deal as Ansari is also an accused in the murder of Ajay Rai’s elder brother Awadhesh. A prime witness in the case, Ajay Rai did not show up in court when it was being heard in an apparent signal to Ansari that he was ready to let bygones be bygones.
“The anger of the Bhumihars might prove costly for Rai,” said Uday Tripathi, a political analyst. Others like RK Mishra, a retired teacher in Varanasi, said the Ansari-Rai deal could lead to a division of Muslim votes and make things easy for Modi.
But the police in eastern UP are more worried by the bearing their poll deal could have on the region’s underworld. “Gangs active in the area would not only calculate the fallout of the alliance on their fortunes but also position themselves according to the changed situation,” a senior police officer said.
Police intelligence officials said Ajay Rai had earlier worked with Brjiesh Singh, another don turned politician. He was involved in the attacks carried out by the Brijesh gang on Mukhtar Ansari but had been losing ground in recent times following a family rift. The Mukhtar gang was allegedly able to eliminate key members of the Brijesh gang in attacks in Varanasi.
The Rai-Ansari understanding, meanwhile, has punctured the confidence of Aam Aadmi Party vis-à-vis some 300,000 Muslim votes in Varanasi. Party contestant and convener Arvind Kejriwal was upbeat after Ansari withdrew his candidature.