Poll Pourri: Lo­cal Dons Carve Out their Dens in East­ern UP

While Mukhtar and Sib­gat­ul­lah are BSP’s nom­i­nees from their tra­di­tional seats of Mau and Mo­ham­mad­abad, Mukhtar’s son Ab­bas is in the fray for the first time from Ghosi seat on BSP ticket

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - San­jay.Singh2@ times­group.com

Ghazipur | Mau: The shadow of jailed Mau MLA Mukhtar An­sari and his two broth­ers looms large over Ghazipur, Mau, Aza­m­garh and Bal­lia dis­tricts, which send 28 leg­is­la­tors to the Ut­tar Pradesh as­sem­bly, but for them, this elec­tion is be­ing seen as a bat­tle for po­lit­i­cal sur­vival. While CM and Sa­ma­jwadi Party’s new na­tional pres­i­dent Akhilesh Ya­dav has de­cided to keep a dis­tance from An­sari broth­ers, Union min­is­ter of state for rail­ways and Ghazipur MP Manoj Sinha has at­tempted to break the old caste for­mu­lae with his de­vel­op­ment work in this re­gion. Be­sides, BJP has given tick­ets to sev­eral can­di­dates from Most Back­ward Castes (MBCs) in the ar­eas under the in­flu­ence of An­sari broth­ers. The area of in­flu­ence of the broth­ers, in­clud­ing Mo­ham­mad­abad MLA Sib­gat­ul­lah An­sari and for­mer Lok Sabha mem­ber Afzal An­sari, ex­tends to Varanasi and Jaun­pur. They are be­lieved to have a strong sup­port base among the weaver com­mu­nity, which is present in large num­bers in Varanasi, Mau and Aza­m­garh in par­tic­u­lar. In their na­tive Ghazipur in east­ern UP, pol­i­tics con­tin­ues to cen­tre around Phatak (gate­way to power), a com­mon ref­er­ence to their res­i­den­tial ad­dress in Mo­ham­mad­abad town along the Ghazipur-Bal­lia road. It was scarcely sur­pris­ing then that Bahu­jan Sa­maj Party chief Mayawati wel­comed their re­turn to the party when Akhilesh Ya­dav re­jected the plan of merger of Quami Ekta Dal (QED) headed by the An­saris with his party. While Mukhtar and Sib­gat­ul­lah are BSP’s nom­i­nees from their tra­di­tional seats of Mau and Mo­ham­mad­abad, Mukhtar’s son Ab­bas is in the fray for the first time, from Ghosi seat (Mau district) on BSP ticket. Afzal’s name fig­ures in BSP’s list of star cam­paign­ers and he is trav­el­ling across east­ern UP to mo­bilise mi­nor­ity vot­ers in BSP’s favour. Mukhtar had first en­tered the state as­sem­bly on BSP ticket in 1996. “We changed three par­ties within two weeks of Jan­uary,” said Mukhtar’s cousin Mu­jahid, who han­dles elec­tion af­fairs in Mau in Mukhtar’s ab­sence. “First, we merged with SP. Then, we were left with no other op­tion but to re­vive QED af­ter CM Akhilesh Ya­dav de­nied ticket to our lead­ers. Now, we are with BSP, which is al­ways our nat­u­ral choice in view of the An­sari family’s old as­so­ci­a­tion with the left pol­i­tics in the area.” Mukhtar, an ac­cused in the mur­der of for­mer BJP MLA Kr­ish­nanand Rai among other cases, has been in jail for more than a decade. None­the­less, he is seek­ing fifth con­sec­u­tive en­try to the state as­sem­bly from Mau, hav­ing won two as­sem­bly polls de­spite be­ing be­hind bars. “His ab­sence in his con­stituency never af­fects us po­lit­i­cally,” said Mu­jahid. “Adalat mein peshi ke dau­ran hi ek-aadh baar Mau aaye wo (He came to Mau only on a few oc­ca­sions when he was brought be­fore the courts. Still peo­ple love him here,” said Athar Ja­mal Lari, who han­dles An­sari broth­ers’ po­lit­i­cal af­fairs in Varanasi and Jaun­pur dis­tricts, and is camp­ing in Mau. So, what ex­plains the po­lit­i­cal clout of the An­sari broth­ers? The an­swer lies in their con­nect with the poor peo­ple through gram prad­hans in th­ese ar­eas. ‘If you need their sup­port to get med­i­cal treat­ment or set­tle marriage of your daugh­ter or per­form­ing other rit­u­als, you can just com­mu­ni­cate to the prad­han. His men will be at your doorstep to ex­tend all help. One can visit Phatak seek­ing such helps also,” said Sab­bir, a na­tive of Barachawar in Za­hoorabad as­sem­bly seat.

He clar­i­fied, though, that the teams of the An­sari broth­ers which are ac­tive in th­ese ar­eas first ver­ify the fi­nan­cial po­si­tion of the help seek­ers.

In this elec­tion, how­ever, Sib­gat­ul­lah is in a tough fight with BJP’s Alka Rai in Mo­ham­mad­abad, while Mukhtar’s main chal­lenger is a lo­cal face, Altaf An­sari, who is SP’s nom­i­nee in Mau. BJP has given the Mau seat to its ally Suheldev Bhar­tiya Sa­maj Party, which has fielded an MBC can­di­date, Ma­hen­dra Ra­jb­har, against Mukhtar. Mo­ham­mad­abad seat has gone to Congress under the seat shar­ing ar­range­ment between SP and Congress. “This shows Union home min­is­ter Ra­j­nath Singh and Akhilesh Ya­dav have joined hands in the bat­tle against us. The ab­sence of SP can­di­date in Mo­ham­mad­abad and BJP can­di­date in Mau is clear in­di­ca­tion of a joint strat­egy to make it a di­rect con­test in the two con­stituen­cies,” Mu­jahid alleged. In the ab­sence of SP can­di­date in Mo­ham­mad­abad, where Congress has fielded Janak Kush­waha, BJP is eye­ing Ya­dav votes. An­sari broth­ers have been lashing out at SP in their elec­tion cam­paign. “We show all re­spect to SP pa­tri­arch Mu­layam Singh ji. What­ever our po­lit­i­cal dif­fer­ences with SP, we hon­our him,” said Om Prakash Upad­hayay, who is han­dling the elec­tion cam­paign of BJP’s nom­i­nee Alka Rai, widow of Kr­ish­nanand Rai, in Mo­ham­mad­abad. In Mau, Mukhtar is termed an “out­sider” by his po­lit­i­cal ri­vals in view of the lo­cal con­nec­tions which the SP nom­i­nee Altaf en­joys. What suits the po­lit­i­cal in­ter­est of BSP in Mau is high pres­ence of Dalit and Mus­lim vot­ers. Mukhtar’s younger son Umar is seek­ing votes for his jailed fa­ther in this seat.

The sit­u­a­tion is dif­fer­ent in Ghosi, which is close to Mau seat. Mukhtar’s son Ab­bas is en­gaged in a tri­an­gu­lar fight with SP’s sit­ting can­di­date Sud­hakar Singh and BJP’s nom­i­nee and prom­i­nent MBC face of the area, Fagu Chauhan. In 2012, Mukhtar had con­tested the as­sem­ble elec­tion from Ghosi as a QED nom­i­nee and bagged about 40,000 votes. So, Ghosi is not a new ter­ri­tory for An­sari broth­ers.

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