After failing to solicit a favourable response from main players like SP, BJP, BSP and the Congress, many ‘heavyweight’ candidates, known for their money and muscle power, are turning to the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) to contest assembly election.
Latest to join the list is former BSP MP Umakant Yadav and his son Dinesh Kant Yadav. The duo joined the RLD in the presence of national president Ajit Singh in New Delhi on Thursday. While Umakant has been made the national general secretary of the party, his son Dinesh Yadav will contest from Shahganj assembly seat in Jaunpur district.
In May 2007, the then chief minister Mayawati had got Umakant arrested from the gate of her residence for grabbing the land of a farmer in Sarai Mir area of Azamgarh district.
Dinesh, who had contested assembly election on BSP ticket from Khuthan seat, was expelled from the party.
Accused in around 20 criminals cases, Umakant’s entry in RLD is likely to turn the electoral battle in East UP a fight between the ‘bahubalis’ (muscle power).
While gangster-turn-politician Mukhtar Ansari has joined BSP, the likes of Durga Yadav and Abhay Singh are also contesting on SP ticket. BJP MP Ramakant Yadav, also known for muscle power, will lead the BJP campaign in Azamgarh and neighbouring districts.
The RLD, meanwhile, has also fielded gangster-turned-politician Bhagwan Sharma alias Guddu Pandit from Bulandshahr assembly seat. His brother Mukesh Sharma has been given ticket on Shikarpur seat. Dinesh Prasad Mishra, a strongman from Bundelkhand region, has been fielded from Manikpur constituency in Chitrakoot district.
Former minister in SP government Sharda Prasad Shukla is contesting from Sarojni Nagar seat in Lucknow. Former bandit Malkhan Singh of Chambal had been made the member of the national executive of RLD.
Talking to HT state unit president of RLD, Masood Ahmed said, “RLD has launched 15 parties alliance to contest the assembly election. Several sitting MLAs of other parties and aspirants are in contact for ticket. The winnablity of the candidate tops the priority when a ticket is given. The opinion of the alliance partner is also taken before finalizing the ticket,” he said.
The RLD office located on Trilokinath Road that wore a deserted look a month back is humming with activities these days. The ticket aspirants and their supporters throng the office and wait for the finalization of the ticket. “The list is forwarded to central office in New Delhi and after approval of the national president Ajit Singh, the list is released,” said a RLD leader.
Candidates known for muscle power fielded by RLD include Ravindra Bhati from Dadari , Thakur Sunil Singh from Sayana, Swami Prawaktanand on Barkhera, Chaudhary Ravindra Pratap Singh from Sohratgarh, Mukesh Singh from Colonelganj assembly seat.