VICTORY AT any cost.
That’s probably the motto of political parties when
choosing candidates for the face-off in eastern Uttar Pradesh. A look at the list of nominees for the 16 seats here going to polls on Thursday, shows mafia dons and their families are calling the shots in this region.
The absence of an overriding issue concerning the common man and low interest among voters seem to have prompted the parties to go for people who can deliver, say analysts. “Winability and loyalty” to the party is what matters.
Leading the race is the state’s ruling party, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which has four candidates with serious criminal records and has given tickets to the son and nephew of another big don of the region. Following closely is the Samajwadi Party (SP), which has two such candidates in the fray, while the BJP, Congress and JD(U) have one each.
The BSP has fielded the dreaded Ansari brothers — Afzal (55) and Mukhtar (49) — who moved from the SP. Afzal, a sitting MP, is contesting from Ghazipur and Mukhtar, presently in Kanpur jail, is in the fray from Varanasi.
The bothers have a long list of criminal cases, including murder, kidnapping, extortion and land grabbing against them. The latest being the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai in November 2005. While Mukhtar continues to be in jail, Afzal was recently granted conditional bail on health grounds.
Another BSP candidate with a dubious record is Akbar Ahmed ‘Dumpy’ (57). He is taking on BJP’s Ramakant Yadav (49) from Azamgarh, who too has a long list of criminal cases registered against him.
While Dumpy is named in an attempt to murder case, Yadav is named in 17. These include the infamous attack on Mayawati in a Lucknow guesthouse in 1995. Yadav was a part of Mulayam Singh’s Samajwadi Party then.
BSP’s candidate from Jaunpur, Dhananjay Singh, is a criminal history sheeter
and has 25 cases registered against his name, including the murder of the state’s director general of family welfare in 2000.
The party has also given tickets to the son and nephew of Hari Shankar Tiwari — Vinay and Ganesh Shankar Pandey from Gorakhpur and Mahrajganj respectively. Tiwari was considered to the biggest mafia don till the Ansari brothers took over. He has 14 cases murder and dacoity against him. The state government website admits that the “14 files pertaining to criminal records of Tiwari have gone missing from its records”.
Not to be outdone, the SP embraced BJP turncoat Ajay Rai (36) from Varanasi, who is believed to be a member of the Brijesh Singh gang, which is opposed to the Ansaris. There are seven cases against his name.
Rai denies the charge. “These are canards being spread by the BSP and the BJP against me.”
Mulayam’s man from Mahrajganj is Amarmani Tripathi’s brother. Tripathi was a minister in the Mayawati government in 2003, when he was charged with the murder of Lucknow-based poetess Madhumita Shukla. He is in jail.
The Congress’s lone ‘criminal’ candidate from this region is Bhola Pandey. The man who is fighting from Salempur has at least five cases against his name, including trying to hijack a plane in 1977, following the arrest of former PM Indira Gandhi after the Emergency.
Ask any party about their tainted candidates and the response is the same. “They have been framed by their opponents and the cases are politically motivated.”