Baubali politicians on a limb in UP polls, parties now prefer their wives and sons
Luck now: Will the 2022 high-stakes parliamentary elections in Uttar Pradesh mark the end of a culture of ‘bahubalis’ (strongmen) and ‘dabang’ (fearless) in state politics, or will they reduce , at least, its influence?
The evolution of the situation in the run-up to the elections, however, shows how much the love of the political parties for the “bahubalis” has cooled considerably.
Now there is a shift in political behavior – instead of giving gangster politicians tickets, parties are instead opting for their sons and wives to retain their support bases.
Thus, the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) presents Abbas, the son of imprisoned Mukhtar Ansari, from Mau Sadar constituency, while the BJP gave tickets to the wives of two of its condemned MPs, Sanjeev Raja and Indra Pratap Tiwari .
The PS, too, features Maharaji Prajapati, wife of imprisoned former minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati, from Amethi constituency.
UP has already seen politicians turned gangsters like Hari Shanker Tiwari, Mukhtar Ansari, Atiq Ahmed and Brijesh Singh challenge from inside prisons and win, as have convicted politicians like Amarmani Tripathi.
This election season, leading militants of the Bharatiya Janata Party, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself, have targeted rivals for their links to the “dangai” (rioters), “dabang” and “mafia”.
The high tone of law and order has drastically reduced the prospects of so-called strongmen across party lines.
Opposition parties – Samajwadi Party (SP)-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)-Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) alliance, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Congress and All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM ) – are now more reluctant to present candidates with a criminal past.
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Mukhtar Ansari shunned by parties in Mau
The only name that tops the list of contemporary UP mobsters-turned-politicians – highlighted by BJP National Chairman JP Nadda’s campaign speeches across the UP – is that of the imprisoned gangster from the east of UP Mukhtar Ansari, which had already had up to four dozen cases filed against it.
He is the incumbent BSP MP for Mau constituency.
Amid rumors of his release, fueled by Ansari securing bail in an old Gangster Act case in Mau on Wednesday, police issued a denial, saying the leader of interstate gang number 191 continues to be jailed as part of 12 case. .
Ansari may have won in Mau Sadar constituency since 1996 but, for the first time, the seat will witness an election without him.
Denied a ticket by BSP supremo Mayawati, who made the announcement in September 2021, Ansari wanted to fight the polls with the backing of the SBSP, whose chief OP Rajbhar was open to the idea.
Insiders say that while Ansari was in the process of filing his nomination, an overhaul prompted the alliance to opt for his son, Abbas Ansari, after senior alliance partner SP stood firm on not not align Mukhtar Ansari.
Abbas Ansari got an SBSP ticket to contest from Mau Sadar.
The party, however, projects it as a transfer of power to the next generation.
National General Secretary and SBSP spokesman Arun Rajbhar told ThePrint that they had left the choice to Ansari’s family and that Abbas’ candidacy was in line with the party’s efforts to induct young faces.
“Nayi hawa, nayi Sapa hai (It’s fresh air and fresh SP). The SP-SBSP alliance has decided to bring young faces into mainstream politics with Akhilesh Yadav’s efforts to nurture the youth,” Rajbhar said.
Lucknow-based political expert Brajesh Shukla, however, points out that Akhilesh had canceled a plan to merge Ansari’s Qaumi Ekta Dal with the SP in 2016.
When asked why he was sent from Mau Sadar in place of his father, Abbas, who filed two more rounds of nominations on Thursday, did not give a clear answer, alleging irregularities in the nomination process.
Arun Rajbhar asked that when the BJP grants political patronage to gangsters like Dhananjay Singh (candidate of BJP ally Janata Dal-United of Jaunpur’s Malhani) and Brijesh Singh (independent MLC from Varanasi, backed by the BJP), why whether Abbas’ candidacy was targeted.
“Anyone who fights for the BJP is a nationalist. The BJP gave political patronage to the gangsters, but every time a gangster joins the BJP, they become honest and nationalistic, and those with the SP become traitors. Brijesh Singh has 125 cases against him,” he said.
An ambitious generation then takes over in Mohammadabad in Ghazipur
A similar drama was played out in Ghazipur district.
There, Mukhtar Ansari’s older brother, Sibghatullah Ansari, had joined the SP last year from the BSP with his son Suheb (also called Mannu).
Yet even after submitting his candidacy from the Mohammadabad seat (he is a former MP for the constituency), Sibghatullah had to withdraw it after Suheb approached Akhilesh Yadav for a ticket, a source confirmed.
“Sibghatullah was keen to fight the polls, but it was Mannu’s ambition and the SP’s preference for Mannu over the former that led to Sibghatullah’s candidacy being withdrawn…. The transfer of power actually took place in Mau Sadar, where Abbas took over from Mukhtar,” he said.
Asked about the change in the Ansari brothers’ candidacy, SP chief spokesman Rajendra Chowdhary said he did not wish to comment on the BJP allegations and accused it of ‘raking in non-issues ahead of the election “.
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Criminals out, wives for BJP in two seats
The BJP, which is leading the charge against the opposition, especially the SP, for its mafia links, replaced two of its incumbents after they were convicted on criminal charges and presented their wives to the square.
While Aligarh (City) MP Sanjeev Raja is currently out on bail after being convicted and sentenced to two years in prison for assaulting a cop, he has been banned from standing at the polls. The BJP gave a ticket to his wife, ‘Shrimati Mukta Sanjeev Raja, according to election posters in Aligarh.
Similarly, the BJP fielded in Gosainganj (in Ayodhya district) the wife of BJP MP Indra Pratap Tiwari, Arti Tiwari.
Indra Pratap, aka Khabbu Tiwari, was found guilty in a 29-year-old case of using a fake mark sheet for admission, on which a local court announced the verdict in October last year, the sentenced to five years imprisonment.
A well-known journalist, Tiwari formerly belonged to the BSP and SP, but joined the BJP in 2017. In his 2017 election affidavit, he said four complaints were filed against him, including that of murder.
The SP also fielded former minister Gayatri Prasad Prajapati’s wife, Maharaji Prajapati, from Amethi constituency. Prajapati is serving a life sentence after his conviction in a rape case last year.
Speaking to ThePrint, BJP spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said none of the BJP candidates had serious charges against him and attacked the SP for giving Mukhtar a way out by sending his son from Mau Sadar and giving a ticket to Nahid Hasan from Kairana as well as Prajapati’s wife.
Nahid, who has at least 16 complaints filed against him, was arrested by UP police in January for his involvement in a Gangster Act case.
BSP retains Amanmani Tripathi despite opposition
Nautanwa MLA Amanmani Tripathi, whose name has arisen in connection with the murder of his wife Sara, has been fielded by the BSP from headquarters.
Although slain poet Madhumita Shukla’s sister, Nidhi Shukla, and Sara’s mother, Seema Singh, toured various political parties to ensure that Tripathi did not get a ticket, the BSP party declared her candidacy. . This is despite Mayawati’s announcement last year that the BSP will not present any candidate with a criminal record.
Amanmani is the son of four-time MP Amarmani Tripathi, who is currently serving a life sentence in the Madhumita Shukla murder case with his wife.
Speaking to ThePrint, BSP National Spokesperson MH Khan, however, said the charges against Amanmani have yet to be proven and he has yet to be convicted.
End of the road for the gangster Atiq Ahmed
Atiq Ahmed is another name that figures prominently in the attacks by top BJP leaders on the ‘mafiaraj’ in campaign speeches.
Atiq won the seat of Allahabad West five times in a row between 1989 and 2004 (three times as an independent candidate and twice on SP and Apna Dal tickets), left the seat in 2004 when he was elected MP on an SP ticket from Phulpur constituency.
Atiq was defeated in the 2012 election when he ran on an Apna Dal ticket from Prayagraj, after being expelled by SP in 2008 and being denied a ticket by BSP. He returned as an SP candidate for Shrawasti in the 2014 LS polls, but again lost.
The politician-turned-gangster, who once boasted of having 188 cases filed against him, is currently being held in Sabarmati prison in Ahmedabad following his transfer from a UP prison.
While his wife has decided to step down from the ballot box despite being lined up on an AIMIM ticket, 2022 is set to mark the end of Atiq Ahmed’s political career.
Since December 2016, Atiq has again been arrested in an assault case, and in 2019 was transferred to Sabarmati prison after a Supreme Court order.
With Atiq and his brother Kashif in prison, his wife Shaista Parveen joined AIMIM led by Asaduddin Owaisi in September 2021.
AIMIM leaders, who were confidently announcing her candidacy from Allahabad (west), her husband’s former stronghold, confirmed that she had not applied.
Insiders say a lawsuit filed against her son Ali on December 31 discouraged her.
“There are no male members in her family. Her son is also on the run since he was arrested. She felt she could not fight the polls in such a situation,” Afsar Mehmood said. , spokesperson for AIMIM Prayagraj district, to ThePrint.
(Edited by Saikat Niyogi)
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