Mafia–don–turned politician, Atiq Ahmad, who has been a 5–time period MLA in Uttar Pradesh and Lok Sabha MP from Phulpur, could now be lodged in jail in Gujarat, however his shadow looms giant on the ballot narrative within the space within the type of a authorities–run bulldozer.
From 1989 to 2017, both he or his kin have contested the polls within the State, particularly in and round Prayagraj. This time, nevertheless, its Mr. Ahmad’s demolished property which is taking part in its function within the polls, as an emblem of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath’s authorities’s crackdown on “Bahubalis” or strongmen like Mr. Ahmad and Mukhtar Ansari who had dominated the politics and legal panorama of the world for lengthy ranging from the late Eighties and solely petering out nicely into the 2000s.
The phrase “bulldozer” (used to demolish properties associated to Mr. Ahmad and even Mr. Ansari’s Ghazal Lodge in Ghazipur) has turn into a euphemism deployed by the BJP marketing campaign to indicate ‘suraksha’ (security) and regulation and order.
A Minister within the Yogi Adityanath authorities, Siddharth Nath Singh, is within the fray to defend his seat of Allahabad (West) which had returned Mr. Ahmad to the Meeting a number of instances and had by no means been a BJP seat until Mr. Singh gained it in 2017, and isn’t shying away from utilizing the phrase ‘Bulldozer’. In reality, Mr. Ahmad’s spouse Shaista Parveen had bought a ticket from the All India Majlis-i-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) however didn’t file nomination papers after Mr. Ahmad took a name to keep away from the ballot fray.
“I’m the experimental boy of the Bulldozer Baba [Mr. Yogi Adityanath] as a result of whereas bulldozers had been deployed to take away encroachments on illegally occupied land in all 403 constituencies in U.P., it was in Prayagraj, on Atiq Ahmad’s occupied property, that not solely was a bulldozer deployed however Chief Minister Yogiji additionally carried out Bhoomi Poojan [ground breaking ceremony] to construct 75 homes for the poor,” he mentioned. In response to the U.P. authorities figures, round 1.5 lakh acres have been free of encroachment.
Gopal Kunwar, native resident close to the Civil Strains property that Mr. Singh speaks of, acknowledged that the mafiosi who had dominated the politics of the world had seen a decline in recent times. “We’re capable of transfer round freely, which was not the case a couple of years in the past, when shootouts used to occur overtly,” he mentioned recalling the homicide of former MLAs Jawahar Yadav in 1996 and Raju Pal in 2005. Mr. Ahmad has been chargesheeted in Pal homicide case by the CBI.
For the BJP, free rations for the poor by the pandemic interval and the narrative of ‘suraksha’ are vital cornerstones of their marketing campaign to get re-elected in Uttar Pradesh.