Candidates contesting election from behind the bars pose a big challenge to Election Commission in its bid to ensure free and fair election in their constituencies in Uttar Pradesh.
The EC though continues to keep a close watch on activities of candidates those campaigning behind the bars a game of hide and seek appears to be going on between the two. So, the candidates are not only using the mobile phones from behind the bars but also allegedly addressing public meetings from jails. Some have evolved new ways to thwart EC's measures. Those contesting the poll behind the bars include Mukhtar Ansari, Akhilesh Kumar Singh and Amarmani Tripathi. Besides the three MLAs the close relatives of mafia dons and dacoits are also contesting the poll. This has become a serious cause of concern for the EC that has ordered shifting of some of the criminals to other jails now.
Take the case of Independent MLA from Mau Mukhtar Ansari. There are allegations that Ansari addressed a public meeting from the Ghazipur jail using his mobile telephone. This was brought to notice of Chief Election Commissioner N Gopalaswamy's recent visit. So, the EC sought a report. Raids are also being conducted at various jails that include jails of Ghazipur, Naini (Allahabad) and Ghaziabad. Some mobile sets were recovered. The district authorities however have refused to confirm that Ansari addressed any public meeting using his mobile, said the additional chief election officer Devesh Chaturvedi. The EC would order an enquiry if any specific incident was brought to its notice, he said.
The EC's directives to shift Ansari and others from the Ghazipur jail have been caught in legal wrangling. Now Ansari is being shifted to Agra. His brother and the Samajwadi Party MP Afzal Ansari is also being shifted to Jhansi. The Home Secretary RM Srivastava said State Government had filed the petition to shift them. Much would however depend on the orders of the district court where the case is listed for Saturday, he said.
Another MLA Akhilesh Kumar Singh of the ABCD is also contesting the poll from Rae Bareli Vidhan Sabha seat. Singh is lodged in Kanpur jail in a murder case. On court's order Singh has been shifted to Rae Bareli from April 25 to 27, 2007. As polling is scheduled to take place in Rae Bareli on Saturday Singh's presence in Rae Bareli has become a serious cause of concern for the EC. This has become a serious cause of concern to the EC. Chaturvedi said the district magistrate Rae Bareli has been asked to ensure that Singh did not get any facilities against the provisions of jail manual. “We are keeping watch,” he said. The Samajwadi Party MLA and former minister Amar Mani Tripathi the main accused in the Madhumita Shukla murder case is also contesting the poll as SP candidate. The Supreme Court granted him four-day permission from April 19, 2007 to Tripathi to file papers from Lakshmipur Vidhan sabha seat of Maharajganj.
Besides those who are contesting the poll from behind the bars the BJP MP Yogi Aditya Nath also remained in focus recently when lodged in Gorakhpur jail. Long queues of visitors were witnessed outside the jail to meet Yogi. There are also reports that Amarmani Triathi who also in Gorakhpur jail at that point even hosted a party for the Yogi. Replying to a question Chaturvedi said a report has been sought from all the districts to send by Saturday a list of candidates and others to be shifted to other jails.