Moving away from the shadows of their parents – considered strongmen in UP politics – a number of young candidates are looking forward to make a difference in the society.
Sons and daughters of as many as five such politicians are in fray and are promising development in their campaign trail.
The youngest of the lot, Shashank Shekhar Singh alias Sunny (25), is the son of Samajwadi Party MLC Ajeet Singh who was shot dead in a resort on Lucknow-Unnao highway in September 2004.
Ajeet was BJP MLC from Lucknow-Unnao before winning from the same seat as SP candidate in 2004. He was a history-sheeter and had a number of criminal cases against him.
Sunny, who was just 12 when he lost his father, is trying to shed the image of a strongman’s son and is contesting as a Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) candidate from Bhagwant Nagar constituency in Unnao.
He has a clean image in the area and is banking on youth support. A pass out of ‘The Doon School’, Sunny holds an MBA degree from Amity University, Lucknow, and runs several businesses, including a gym and fitness centre in Aashiana.
“I decided to contest from this constituency as I hail from here and wanted to fulfil my father’s dream of providing basic infrastructure to the people,” he says.
Aditi Singh (29), daughter of another strongman Akhilesh Singh, is also trying her luck from Rae Bareli Sadar seat as a Congress candidate.
Her father, who is suffering from critical illness, has been a five-time MLA – thrice on Congress ticket and one each as a Peace Party and an independent candidate.
Akhilesh has eight criminal cases against him. His name had also figured in the murder case of MLC Ajeet Singh but his role was not established.
A brilliant scholar since childhood, Aditi completed her intermediate from reputed schools of Mussoorie before pursuing MBA from the United States.
She took up social work after returning to her hometown. “Entry of young and educated people in politics will improve the entire system and help in the development of the country,” Aditi says.
Prateek Bhushan Singh (27), son of BJP MP from Kaiserganj Brij Bhushan Saran Singh, is also contesting from Gonda as a BJP candidate. The MP, who has two cases against him, is considered a strongman in the region covering Gonda, Balrampur and Behraich.
Prateek, however, claims his father has always worked for the common man and the media has distorted his image. Prateek has been associated as a member of the Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) for past many years and has been working for the masses since he was a teenager.
He has done a diploma course in management from Australia after completing his studies in Delhi and Lucknow. Prateek says he has been donating blood thrice a year for the last eight years and would work for the development of his constituency, if elected.
However, the most interesting candidate in the list is Abbas Ansari (28), son of incarcerated mafia-turned-politician Mokhtar Ansari.
Abbas is in poll fray as a BSP candidate from Ghosi constituency in Mau. His father Mokhtar and uncle Sibghatullah Ansari are also contesting as BSP candidates from Mau (Cant) and Mohammadabad constituencies of east UP. Mokhtar has over 15 criminal cases against him, including the sensational killing of slain BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai in November 2005.
Mokhtar, a five-time MLA from Mau, was known as a sharp-shooter in the world of crime. His son also inherited this quality from him but as a sport. Abbas is two-time national champion in shooting and is ready to take forward his family’s political legacy.
Veer Singh (37), the son of slain dacoit Shiv Kumar Patel alias Dadua, is also contesting election on SP ticket from Karvi (Chitrakoot). He is a sitting SP MLA from Chitrakoot.
Dadua had more than 180 criminal cases pending against him when the UP special task force gunned him down in an encounter in 2007.