UP is full of unpredictable political changes. Colours in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are now changing fast, with clerics and mafia gangsters entering the fray, but one aspect of it remains constant: the nexus between politics and criminals.

It is an acknowledged fact that during the five years of Yogi’s rule, stringent action was taken against gangsters, criminals and anti-social elements. Properties of mafia gangsters were seized and, in several cases, demolished by using bulldozers. Forcible occupation of government land by mafia gangsters was removed in several cases.

More than Rs 1,500 crore worth properties were recovered. People of UP never saw in the past, videos of gangsters putting placards round their necks, begging police to arrest them and put in jail, before they die in encounters. Did anybody see in the past, criminals filing petitions in courts pleading for cancellation of their bail, and opting for judicial custody, because they considered themselves safe inside jail?

Even his rivals admit that Yogi struck terror of police, administration and law in the hearts of criminals during five years of his rule, but even to this day, criminalization of politics and entry of criminals in politics continue to be rampant.

Like always, around three dozen politicians with criminal antecedents are in the fray in UP this time as well. Some of the dreaded mafiosi and hard core criminals who have been nominated by different political parties for the forth coming UP assembly election 2022, are listed below:

  • Nahid Hasan: Nominated by SP For Kairana Constituency:

There are 17 cases against Nahid Hasan, which include attempt to murder, rioting, cheating, criminal conspiracy, and creating ill-will between communities. Sections of Goonda Act and Gangster Act have also been added in these cases. A year ago, Nahid Hasan was declared absconder by a local court, but soon after getting SP ticket, he went to file his nomination papers. He was arrested and sent to 14 days’ judicial custody.

Since there are slim chances of him getting bail, his sister Iqra Hasan has filed nomination as an independent for backup. Iqra claims that most of the cases filed against her brother were fake. The fact is, many of the cases out of the total number of 17 were filed against Nahid Hasan, even before Yogi came to power.

  • Aslam Choudhary: nominated by SP for Dhaulana constituency:

In Dhaulana seat of Hapur, Aslam Choudhary has been given the SP ticket. There are ten criminal cases including those of attempt to murder, pending against him. 

Other cases include threat to life, forcible occupation of land, rioting and making inflammable speeches. Cases under Gangsters Act have been lodged against Choudhary. In his affidavit, he mentioned only 10 cases, but police records show, there are 21 cases pending against him.

  • Rafiq Ansari: nominated by SP for Meerut City constituency:

In Meerut City, Rafiq Ansari is the SP candidate. He has a criminal case of attempt to murder filed in 2007, but he got a stay on from High Court on his arrest warrant issued by a lower court. Ansari is the sitting SP MLA.

  • Haji Younus: nominated by RLD for Bulandshahar constituency:

Haji Younus, the RLD candidate from Bulandshahar. There are seven cases of attempt to murder, attempt to rape, giving threat of life and other charges, against him since Akhilesh Yadav’s rule. 

  • Madan Singh Kasana alias Madan Bhaiya: nominated by RLD for Loni, Ghaziabad:

Madan Singh Kasana alias Madan Bhaiya, is the RLD candidate from Loni, Ghaziabad. He is feared in his locality for his ‘bahubali’ image and is counted as a dreaded Mafiosi.

  • Abdullah Azam nominated by SP for Suar constituency of Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur district

Former UP minister Azam Khan’s son Abdullah Azam has many cases filed against him, he was in jail for several months, and was released two days ago. It is also said that a court had even quashed his membership as MLA.

 

It is surprising that despite enactment of laws barring entry of criminals in politics, they find ways to circumvent the law. The law says, anybody convicted even for two years imprisonment stands disqualified from contesting polls, but there are instances where it takes even up to 20 years for getting a conviction. By that time, the criminal, taking undue advantage of legal delay, contests elections several times, and in some cases, also becomes a minister

Secondly, the common public who go to polling booths to cast their votes, do not know about the cases pending against candidates.

This time, Election Commission has made it mandatory for candidates to publish the list of cases pending against them in newspapers for the benefit of voters. Political parties, the EC has said, must put on their websites the list of cases pending against their official candidates.

Media reportes checked the official website of Samajwadi Party and found that the cases were uploaded, but nobody can clearly understand what are the cases pending against the candidates. Only sections of IPC and CrPC are mentioned, and the common man never understand the charges under which these sections have been mentioned. The Election Commission should go through this point and plug the loopholes.

Colours in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections are now changing fast, with clerics and mafia gangsters entering the fray. 

  • Tauqeer Raza a Maulana from Bareilly

Maulana Tauqeer Raza is not a politician. He never contested any assembly election, but floated an outfit called Ittehad-e-Millat Council. Maulana had become famous for his hate speeches. The Maulana had threatened that “if Muslim youths take law into their own hands, Hindus in Hindusthan will have no place to hide.”

Last week, he announced that his outfit would lend support to the Congress. He met Priyanka Gandhi, and said Priyanka and her brother Rahul Gandhi were true secular leaders. During a press conference with Congress leader Priyanka Gandhi and UP state Congress chief Ajay Kumar Lallu, he publicly extended support to the party. Congress leaders extolled the Maulana as “Aala-e-Hazrat”.

The Maulana also said, Akhilesh Yadav was more dangerous than the BJP for Muslims in UP. While SP leaders remained silent and chose to ignore his remarks, BJP leaders took the cue and questioned his meeting with Priyanka Gandhi.

During the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Congress leader Digvijay Singh took the Maulana to a press conference to announce an alliance, but when probing questions about his ‘reward’ and hate speeches were made, the Congress leaders could not reply satisfactorily. Digvijay Singh and others had to cut short the press conference abruptly. And now, again, the Congress has been cornered over taking support from the controversial Maulana.

In the UP-assembly elections 2022, the Congress is nowhere in the race. The main battle is being fought between the BJP+ and SP+. Both the SP and Congress are trying their best to reach out to Muslim voters. The interesting part is that both Akhilesh Yadav and Priyanka Gandhi had been avoiding any mention of Muslims in their speeches till now. Both fear that if they raise Muslim issues, the BJP will promptly pick this up and make a counter-attack.

Both Akhilesh and Priyanka are trying to take support of Muslim leaders, not openly, but behind closed doors. Both SP and Congress leaders think that Muslim voters will not vote for Yogi Adityanath, and hence a tug-of-war is going on for Muslim votes between both these parties. 

Both Akhilesh and Priyanka were till now treading this path softly, but on Tuesday, the cat was out of the bag. Priyanka was cornered on the issue of hate speeches by Maulana Tauqeer Raza, while Akhilesh was cornered on the issue of giving tickets to Muslims leaders like Nahid Hassan and Abdullah Azam.

Both these leaders know that they cannot evade the Muslim issue any more. That is why Muslim voters are being told to do “silently” (chupchaap karo), as was done during Bengal elections, when BJP had given the slogan “Chup chaap, Kamal chhaap” (vote for Lotus silently). Akhilesh Yadav’s message to Muslims now is: “Chup Chaap, Cycle chhaap” (Vote for Cycle silently).

Incidentally, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which is aspiring for its pan-India dream, has not nominated mafias and criminals so far.