By: FAISAL FAREED
A day before polling in Azamgarh, BJP candidate and sitting MP Ramakant Yadav warned ruling Samajwadi Party workers of blood spilling on Monday. SP president Mulayam Singh Yadav is contesting from here.
“Pehle bolengey nahi, baad mein chodengey nahi (We won’t say anything at first, later, we won’t spare you),” Ramakant told The Indian Express while discussing his strategy for polling day. A four-term MP from Azamgarh, with wins in 1996 and 1999 as an SP candidate, the BJP leader added that he was ready for any battle. “Agar khoon bahega, tou phir theek hai. Jawab diya jayega (If blood flows, it’s alright. We will retaliate),” Ramakant said.
SP and BJP leaders have both submitted complaints of poll rigging against each other to the district administration. Earlier, they accused each other of distributing money and threatening voters.
Mulayam’s brother Shivpal Yadav, who was present in the constituency on Sunday to “finetune” SP poll preparations, called Ramakant a “goonda”. “He is a criminal and can do anything.” He had earlier accused the BJP leader of having lost his mental balance and said he could kill anyone on polling day, including himself, to ensure countermanding of Azamgarh election. Shivpal had demanded that Ramakant be taken into custody for a peaceful election.
The BJP leader on Sunday said the SP wanted him in police custody, “so that they can have a field day”. “It will not happen. Koi marega to main kya chup baithoonga? Bahey khoon, jawab diya jayega (If someone attacks, will I sit silent? Blood will flow, we’ll answer),” Ramakant said.
He also claimed that nearly a thousand outsiders had come in at Gopalpur and Sagdi to caste votes in order to rig results. While the seat was earlier believed to be a cakewalk for Mulayam, Ramakant has dug his heels in, securing the support of Yadavs besides counting on a “Modi wave”. BSP candidate Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali may also take away the SP’s Dalit and Muslim votes. Both Narendra Modi and BSP chief Mayawati have campaigned for their candidates in Azamgarh.
For Mulayam, the whole Yadav clan has lent its muscle. Ramgopal Yadav, Shivpal, Dharmendra Yadav camped in Azamgarh for long periods. Sources said Ramgopal had given a good dressing down to local SP minister Balram Yadav and his son Sangram for their “lax approach”.
After reports that the Muslims may go with the BSP, the SP went “micro”, hitting village lanes to reach the community. In the final push, SP workers have been asked to ensure a good voter turnout in their favour on Monday.
With Mulayam in the fray, the local administration is not taking any chances. Azamgarh Superintendent of Police Anant Dev said 20 companies of Central paramilitary forces, five PAC companies and nearly 12,000 constables have been deployed. “Besides this, we will have RAF and Quick Response Teams.”
Police conducted search operations in city hotels on Sunday to check for outsiders. Most hotel rooms have been booked by SP workers. After police checks, the hotels bore a deserted look. The scorching heat claimed the life of a polling official on Sunday while a dozen others have suffered heatstroke.