While Prime Minister Narendra Modi made no mention of jailed BSP candidate Mukhtar Ansari in his speech at a rally in Mau district on Monday, Union Minister Manoj Sinha, without naming the MLA, spoke at length about him, his criminal background, son and brother. Sinha, an MP from Ghazipur, said that Ansari — who is facing trial in the murder case of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai — had been in prison for 11 years, and that Rai’s wife Alka, a BJP candidate, is contesting against Mukhtar’s brother Sibgatullah Ansari, also a BSP candidate, from Mohammadabad seat in Ghazipur district. Mukhtar’s son Abbas too is contesting on a BSP ticket from Ghosi seat in Mau district against BJP candidate Fagu Chauhan.
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Sinha said, “Mohammadabad mein uska kaam khatm kar diya hai. Mau aur Ghosi mein bhi uska kaam is baar khatam hona chahiye (He is finished in Mohammadabad and should be finished in Mau and Ghosi as well).” He further said, “He (Mukhtar) wanted to come out on parole… we also engaged our lawyer and now he is not coming out on parole,” Sinha said.
The union minister has played a vital role in pursuing the Rai murder case, which had been transferred to Delhi for trial on the request of the victim’s family, which had alleged that Mukhtar was “influencing” the case. Local BJP leaders could not recall when their party had last won from Mau Sadar, which falls in Ghosi Lok Sabha. BJP’s Lok Sabha palak Vijay Narayan Sharma said, “Ramji Singh had won from Mau Sadar as Janata Party nominee decades ago. Since then, no BJP candidate has won from Mau Sadar.” However, he said that after Monday’s rally, he could say that this time it was a BJP versus Mukhtar Ansari contest on this seat.
Ajay Mishra, a local BJP leader, said there are over 4 lakh voters in Mau Sadar, including around 1.15 lakh Muslims, one lakh Dalits, followed by Rajbhars, Bhumihars and Thakurs.
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“BJP could win if Hindu votes including Dalits are consolidated. Otherwise, SP’s Altaf Ansari too was giving Mukhtar a tough fight. But majority Muslims would go for Mukhtar,” he said.
BJP and Sudeldeo Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP) are contesting the ongoing elections as allies. BJP has given eight seats including Mau Sadar to SBSP in the OBC-dominated pockets of eastern UP, where SBSP claims to have influence on OBC and Dalit voters.
BJP district president Sunil Gupta said that the party cadre was supporting ally SBSP’s candidate Mahendra Rajbhar and Monday’s election meeting has sent out the message that BJP itself was a force to reckon with in the contest here. “The (Modi) rally has increased the alliance candidate’s possibilities of winning,” he claimed.
The SBSP tried to make the rally a profile show as Modi was accompanied by four union ministers — Manoj Sinha, Radha Mohan Singh, Ram Kripal Yadav and Arjun Meghwal — on stage.
SBSP had contested 2012 polls and 2014 Lok Sabha elections in alliance with Mukhtar’s Quami Ekta Dal, which had initially merged with Samajwadi Party and later with BSP. Mukhtar, the MLA from Mau Sadar for four consecutive terms — had first won the seat in 1996 as a BSP nominee. He had won the seat as an independent candidate in 2002 and 2007.