UP Polls: Candidates in jail not new to Nautanwa, Maharajganj

Incarceration has not been a barrier for some contesting elections in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Even those facing heinous charges like murder have won elections. It’s no different in 2017

Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee
Photo by Biswajeet Banerjee

Biswajeet Banerjee

Nautanwa is one of the most remote constituencies of eastern Uttar Pradesh in Maharajganj district, bordering Nepal. Here, tainted candidate Amanmani Tripathi, in jail for allegedly murdering his wife Sara Singh, is contesting election as an independent candidate after he was denied a ticket by the Samajwadi Party.

Another 150 km south-east in Mau, gangster MLA Mukhtar Ansari is contesting on a Bahujan Samaj Party ticket. He has been in jail for the last three years for allegedly killing BJP leader Krishnanand Rai. Supporters of Ansari are vocal in alleging that Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav has “victimised” him.

Professor Harsh Kumar of Gorakhpur University, says: “Lack of development and prevalent poverty in eastern UP has been a fertile ground for such political clout. When the system does not work, these leaders emerge as a parallel system and slowly acquire a Robin Hood image.”

In their absence, their family members have held fort in their constituencies, which will go to polls on March 4. Tripathi’s sisters Tanumani and Alankrita are leading their brother’s election campaign. “It is the first time we are actively taking part in the election campaign because there is no else to do so in the family. They are all behind bars,” says Tanu. Tanu’s father Amarmani and mother Madhumani are in jail for murder of poetess Madhumita Shukla. Amarmani has won elections from Nautanwa five times, but after his conviction he was barred from contesting. He passed on the baton to his son Amanmani in 2012, who lost the election.

“Bhai (Amanmani) has been framed in a false case. We are contesting it legally in the courts but here in the people’s court we are getting a tremendous response. People treat us as their sisters and are sympathetic towards our family,” claimed Alankrita.

Amanmani was arrested by CBI for the alleged murder of his wife Sara Singh, who mysteriously died in a car accident. Sara’s mother Seema Singh had released a video few days back asking voters not to elect her daughter’s murderer. The passionate appeal that got over a lakh likes on Youtube has made both sisters nervous.

“It’s just drama. We have released a video of how she made her cohorts beat an innocent person,” Tanu said. “We are fighting for the justice of our family. My brother is innocent and will come out unscathed,” she said.

Her words are making an impact among people because this constituency has a history of leaders contesting elections from behind bars. Before Amarmani, Virendra Shahi too had won this assembly while contesting from jail.

“In our eyes Amanmani is a victim,” said Jheena Pradhan, adding “Contesting election from jail here is a badge of honour”.

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Published: 02 Mar 2017, 4:58 PM