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Afzal Ansari keeps brother Mukhtar 'alive' in Ghazipur

IANS | May 29, 2024 12:22 PM

GHAZIPUR: Mafia don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari may be dead but he is not yet ‘buried’ -- not, at least, in his hometown of Ghazipur.

Mukhtar’s brother Afzal Ansari, the sitting MP, is seeking re-election as an INDIA bloc candidate on Samajwadi Party’s (SP) symbol and Mukhtar Ansari prominently finds a place in all his speeches.

He appeals to voters to teach the “oppressors” a lesson by ensuring his win.

The Ansaris have not always dominated Ghazipur’s poll arena. Their clout had been challenged by BJP’s Manoj Sinha, who won from here in 1996, 1999 and 2014. Sinha’s development projects earned him the title of ‘Vikas Purush’ in the constituency.

Sinha lost to Afzal in 2019 and the BJP moved him to Jammu and Kashmir as the lieutenant governor.

This time, the party has fielded Parasnath Rai, an RSS man and a trusted associate of Sinha. Rai openly credits Sinha for getting him the BJP ticket.

BJP is banking on the planks of development and ending “mafia raj”.

Addressing an election rally in Ghazipur earlier this week, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath underlined how he had ‘cleaned up’ Ghazipur and paved the way for the constituency to become a model of good governance.

Afzal Ansari says that he rakes up Mukhtar’s death because Mukhtar lives in the heart of the people.

‘His rivals and the media have termed him as a mafia but ask the poorest of the poor here -- irrespective of caste and community -- and they will tell you what he meant for them, People still flock to Kalibagh graveyard where Mukhtar lies buried to offer tributes. It has been exactly two months since he died but people have not forgotten him, ” he says.

Parasnath Rai, the BJP candidate, says he is banking on the performance of the Modi and Yogi government.

“Everyone here knows about the background of all candidates. I do not have to emphasise it. My poll plank is development, ” he says.

The going, however, is not easy for Afzal Ansari. He was convicted by a Ghazipur MP-MLA court in a Gangster Act case and awarded four years in jail. The hearing in his plea challenging his conviction is now posted for hearing next month.

As a backup, Afzal’s daughter Nusrat Ansari has filed her nomination as an Independent from Ghazipur.

“People of Ghazipur will teach BJP a lesson for all the sufferings and the treatment given to Mukhtar and our family, ” he says.

“Besides riding the sympathy wave, Afzal is good at poll management too. And now he has the backing of Samajwadi Party’s vote bank as well, ” says Devdhar Pandey, a local businessman.

Afzal had won the last elections on a BSP ticket and as a result, he still has a hold over the BSP cadre here.

The Samajwadi Party is confident given the caste-community equations. Among 20.7 lakh voters, Yadav and SC voters are in the strength of over 3.5 lakh while Muslim, Thakur, Bind, and Kushwaha voters account for over 1.5 lakh each. Brahmin and Vaishya voters are over one lakh each.

But BJP functionaries say people who earlier voted for Ansaris out of fear will now vote fearlessly as Mukhtar is dead.

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