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We were under pressure to withdraw: Jaunpur candidates

Even as investigations are on into the death of Bahadur Lal Sonkar,the Indian Justice Party candidate for Jaunpur...

Written by Manish Sahu | Jaunpur/lucknow |
April 18, 2009 3:37:33 am

Even as investigations are on into the death of Bahadur Lal Sonkar,the Indian Justice Party candidate for Jaunpur,several other candidates have come forward with allegations that they too were under pressure to withdraw from the contest—from the police,supporters of BSP candidate Dhananjay Singh,and even some strangers.

Several candidates told The Indian Express that they withdrew following the threats,while others described how they fended off the pressure. However,some of the police officials,whom the candidates have named,said they were just carrying out instructions to ensure withdrawal of Independents and candidates of smaller parties so that the total did not exceed 16,the maximum number that an electronic voting machine can accommodate. Interestingly,exactly 16 candidates were left in the fray after papers of two candidates were rejected and six others withdrew from the contest.

However,both District Magistrate Aparna U and SP VK Dohre denied that there were any instructions to force candidates to withdraw. “It is just by chance that there are 16 candidates left in the fray. No policeman ever asked any candidate to withdraw,” insisted Dohre.

But the candidate who were forced to withdraw stand by their claims. Baburam Yadav of Saraigunja had filed his papers under the banner of the Akhil Bhartia Alpashyank

Morcha. “On April 6,during the scrutiny of papers,the District Magistrate called me in her chamber and told me that my party did not exist and,therefore,she would lodge a case. She then asked me to withdraw. I complied as I did not want to get involved in any case. I filed the withdrawal form and came home. She assured me that the nomination money of Rs 10,000 would be returned after the election,” Yadav claimed on Thursday.

But DM Aparna denied the allegation as baseless. “I did not meet Yadav,nor did I ask him to withdraw the papers. I was busy with election observers that day.”

Sai Ram Ashre of Husainabad wanted to contest as an Independent candidate. “Two cops came and informed me that CO city D N Chaudhery had called me. When I met him,he asked me to withdraw the papers and offered Rs 20,000 I had spent. Initially,I resisted,but later I took the money and withdrew the papers,” said Ashre. Incidentally,Chaudhery is also named in Sonekar’s complaint.

Brijraj of Udaibhanpur claimed he dropped out after Maharajganj station officer R K Dwivedi asked him to withdraw his papers or face the consequences. Neelam Devi of Salarpur withdrew after she was threatened by “men of BSP candidate Dhananjay Singh” . Mustaqueem of Rithi said he withdrew his papers willingly after Dhananjay’s men approa-ched him. Mohd Islam,the sixth candidate who withdrew his papers,couldn’t be contacted.

Asked about the allegations against policemen,SP Dohare said: “I have not received any complaint against my officers. Let them come to me and I will look into the matter.”

BSP candidate Dhananjay Singh claimed he was never bothered by the number of candidates as they were never a threat to him. “My name is unnecessarily being dragged into every matter. It is an attempt to tarnish my image and that of the Government.”

Those who did not withdraw

* Taleem Ahmed Rehmani of the Ulema Council said he got threats two day before the last day for withdrawal of nominations on Arpil 8. “Initially,I did not take it seriously. When I started getting calls regularly,I met the SP and later sent a letter to District Magistrate and Election Commission.”

* Rajesh Gaur,who is contesting for the Eklavya Samaj Party,said: “On April 1 or 2,R D Chaurasia,circle officer of Badlapur,asked me to withdraw. He threatened to put me behind bars on a case lodged at the Maharajganj police station a few days ago for pasting posters in public places. This was followed by a call from Station Officer of Maharajganj R K Dwivedi who also asked me to withdraw,failing which he would initiate action against me. Initially,I felt threatened,but then decided not to give in. They were ready to give me whatever money I had spent.” He added: “I did not want to invite the wrath of the local police by lodging a complaint against them,but I did not withdraw either.”

However,R D Chaurasia denied the charges,saying he did not know of any such incident.

* Sheetala Prashad,the Revolutionary Socialist Party candidate,said that on April 7 and 8 men who said they had been sent by BSP candidate Dhananjay Singh repeatedly asked him to withdraw and offered to pay for the expenses he had incurred. “But I quietly went somewhere for two days and switched off my mobile,” said Sheetala. Asked why he did not lodge a complaint,he said,“Who would dare make a complaint against Dhananjay?”

* Jagdish Chand Asthana,an Independent,had a similar story to tell. “The local police outpost in-charge visited my place and asked whether I would really fight the election. Since I was serious,I told him that it is not possible for me to withdraw,” he said.

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