Using his newfound influence in the ruling BSP,don-turned-legislator Mukhtar Ansari is set to lure the weavers of Varanasi even from the confines of jail.
Despite the power crisis in the state,he had written to the Uttar Pradesh Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL) to ensure 20-hour power supply for at least the next two months in Varanasi,from where he is being fielded for the Lok Sabha polls. The promise to the electorate was made by his brother Afzal at a rally where Mukhtars candidature was announced.
On February 20,the UPPCL ordered 20-hour power supply for Varanasi which earlier received electricity only for 12 to 15 hours and Ghazipur,the constituency of Afzal,also fielded by the BSP. In 2004,he had been elected on an SP ticket.
The Varanasi weavers have been suffering for long because of poor power supply. They have to work on handlooms which makes their products costly and therefore,uncompetitive.
Ansari seized the opportunity after realising that most of the weavers were moving from Varanasi to Mau,his current Assembly constituency,in search of jobs. Mau,too,has a substantial population of weavers and Ansari used his clout as an independent MLA to ensure a regular power supply in Mau.
An UPPCL official,however,denied that they were acting under political pressure. Chairman-cum-Managing Director of UPPCL Navneit Shehgal said he knew nothing about Ansaris letter,but were ensuring adequate power supply to all important cities. We currently purchase power from other states also for our needs, he said.
An UPPCL official also clarified that since the state had a shortage of electricity,the actual supply will always depend on availability,although currently power was available for 20 hours in both Varanasi and Ghazipur.
Afzal said they had always given top priority to regular power supply in their constituencies. This is an issue that deeply affects the life of the common man, Afzal said. He had met the authorities concerned for ensuring adequate power supply in the two towns. Ansari is currently in jail for the murder of BJP legislator Krishnanad Rai. The BJP has fielded senior leader Murli Manohar Joshi as its candidate from Varanasi.