A row of photographs in Mukhtar Ansari's ancestral house in Yufuspur Mohammadabad tells a sad tale of a family that fought for the country's freedom and is now facing criminal charges.
Pointing at the fading photographs of three young boys along with other members of their family, Mukhtar's eldest brother Shivag Tullah says, "AK-47 was first used here in an attack on Afzal Ansari's supporters in the 1991 Lok Sabha elections in which these three youngsters were killed."
Since then, AK-47 has continued to shatter the peace of the area.
While Mukhtar, his MP brother Afzal and two other family members are in jail in connection with the Krishnanand Rai murder case (a close aid of Brajesh Singh), Shivag Tullah is holding the show all alone.
Women have been shifted to the state capital Lucknow. Asked about the people's demand to field Afsana, Mukhtar's wife, in this election, Shivag said, "Our women don't take part in politics. They are taking care of the kids and their education. But if this type of injustice continues, then may be! Jaisa waqt hoga waisa karenga (we will act according to time)."
Shivag says the ongoing battle is purely political. "It sparked off after Afzal defeated the BJP nominee in the 1994 Lok Sabha elections. They falsely implicated my brothers in the murder of BJP MLA Krishnand Rai to alienate them from the voters."
The intensity of their fight for supremacy in the area can be gauged from the fact that Shivag, a completely apolitical person, is now contesting his maiden election from the Mohammadabad constituency on a Samajwadi Party ticket. He is facing Rai's widow, Alka Rai, of BJP. Temperatures are bound to soar on either side.
Despite the long list of criminal cases against him and his incarceration, majority of Muslims in the area refuse to admit Mukhtar is a mafia don. His supporters call him "Mau ki shaan", "Mau ka Hatim Tai".
But he has his opponents too, like former Nagarpalika chairman Arshad Jamar, who says, "He (Mukhtar) has a team of 500 boys whom he pays Rs 100 each to spread rumours. The latest in the air is -- agar har gaye to Muslimo ka jina mushkil ho jaayega (if Mukhtar is voted out, Muslims would not be able to live in peace)."
Arshad said that some right-minded Muslims were now holding Mukhtar responsible for Mau's sufferings. "Forty per cent of the traders have closed their shops as under Mukhtar's rule Mau has remained a communally disturbed area."
He says people have vivid memories of Mukhtar moving around in a jeep during the 2006 riots, but they still somehow don't blame him for the trouble. The majority community too is keeping quiet thanks to a shrewd move by Mukhtar who has set up 20 caste-based committees to work for him in the elections. According to Arshad, Mukhtar's poll manager Mujahid is brazenly misguiding young boys to "Mukhtar bano aur kaam karo" (Be bold like Mukhtar).
But there are others like Julfiqar Anwar, an industrialist, Mufti Anwar Ali, Mufti Shahar and Maulvi Irshad Ahmad who disagree with Arshad and count Mukhtar's winning factors. "His office runs 24 hours and 365 days for all. Mau gets 20 hours of power supply instead of 12 hours. There are about 50,000 power looms and 80,000 weavers. He will get hundred percent Muslim support besides that of the majority."
But in adjoining Azamgarh, things are quite the opposite of Mau. Here, Mukhtar is seen as a mafia, there are no sparkling bulbs and instead homes have to be lit with lanterns and candles, and people are not as crazy about cricket.
Indeed, as a story goes here, Mukhtar's rivalry with Brajesh Singh family was born on a cricket field during his college days. A very dear friend of Mukhtar was involved in a fight with Singh's family during a game of cricket and was allegedly killed for that, setting off an unending rivalry in the region. Now it has spread to the political arena too.