Ajay Rai is a five-time MLA from Uttar Pradesh who began his political career as a member of the Bhartiya Janata Party’s student wing. Rai belongs to the Bhumihar community and has a considerable following among Brahmins and Bhumihars. He won the UP assembly elections from Kolasala constituency three times in a row on a BJP ticket between 1996 and 2007. After BJP denied him Lok Sabha ticket in 2009, Rai joined the Samajwadi Party and contested the elections against Murli Manohar Joshi unsuccessfully.
The same year, he contested the bypolls from the Kolasla constituency as an Independent and was nominated to the state Assembly again. After the delimitation of this constituency, Rai won the 2012 Assembly elections from Pindra constituency, falls in the Varanasi district, on a Congress ticket. In the subsequent 2017 state polls, he lost the seat to BJP’s Avadhesh Singh.
The Congress fielded Ajay Rai against Modi in 2014 as well. In 2014, Rai managed to poll only 75,000 votes and finished third, behind Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal.