An insistent ring wakes Dr Imran Idris at 6 am and he rushes out of his small room on the first floor of the Samajwadi Party office, not for a medical emergency but for meeting a group of khadims at a local mazar. An anaesthetist from Kanpur, Idris has been in Badaun for over a fortnight to manage the election campaign of Dharmendra Yadav, the sitting MP from the constituency and Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s cousin. Handpicked by the chief minister to reach out to Muslims, especially youth, the 32-year-old is an unlikely campaigner. Soft-spoken and non-political, Idris has an MBBS from King George’s Medical University in Lucknow and a post-graduation in anaesthesia from the state medical college in Kanpur. Politics never appealed to him until 2008, when he had a chance meeting with Akhilesh Yadav. “I was an intern at the Rural Institute of Medical Sciences, Saifai, when Akhilesh, who was then an MP, brought his father with a broken finger,” Idris says. He was part of the team of doctors who attended to Mulayam Singh Yadav and has remained in touch with the family ever since.
A year ago, Akhilesh sought his help. Dharmendra, despite winning from Badaun, had not received Muslim support. In fact, he had trailed in three Assembly constituencies. In Badaun city, Dharmendra was placed third. For the 2014 elections, the Yadavs decided to entrust Idris with their campaign among the Muslims. “It was strange as SP is regarded as pro-Muslim and here Muslims were voting for others,” Idris says. His task was clear: he had to convince Muslims to choose Dharmendra Yadav. After only a few weeks, Idris is a recognisable face in the Muslim-dominated areas of Badaun.
He says he has helped bridge the gap between the Yadavs and Muslim voters through informal meetings. “Muslims are most concerned about the future of their children. I tried to get them enrolled in the CM’s skill development mission programme,” he says.
Party workers are readily accepting of the young doctor. “People like Imran should be welcomed in the party. He is educated and very impressive when he interacts with people,” says Yasin Usmani, national general secretary of the party.
Other than the Yadavs, Idris has little interaction with local SP leaders. He starts his day early and connects easily with people, asking about their family, their children’s education and other issues. “Most of them are educationally backward and they are proud to hear that I am a doctor and not a politician,” he says. Idris estimates he has met thousands of Muslims in Badaun.
On leave for a month, Idris will return to his work — and to his old lifestyle, peppered with watching new movies and dining out — after the elections. He does not have any political ambitions of his own. “My only association with politics is my relationship with Akhilesh Yadav,” he says.