Faced with all out charges of harbouring alleged mafia links, erstwhile Quami Ekta Dal (QED) has a chance to make its mark in the Samajwadi Party (SP) dispensation by ensuring a massive turnout at a rally of the ruling party in Ghazipur next week.
Samajwadi Party president Mulayam Singh Yadav will kick off his election campaign for next year's Assembly elections from Ghazipur on November 23 from the very RTI ground where Prime Minister Narendra Modi addressed the Bharatiya Janata Party's (BJP) Parivartan Rally on Monday.
"The prime minister addressed a rally this Monday which was a flop show from all angles. This proved to be a big jolt for the BJP which is dreaming of coming to power in the state. They are also accepting it to some extent. Now on the same ground Mulayam will launch his poll campaign with a historic rally," Afzal Ansari, President of the QED, which has now merged with the SP, said.
"The November 23 rally will make BJP, hoping to turn the apple cart of the SP in its stronghold in Purvanchal, realise its ground reality," Ansari said in an interview to PTI.
It was perhaps the sizeable influence of the Ansari brothers, two of whom Mukhtar Ansari and Sigbatullah Ansari are MLAs, in Mau, Ghazipur and surrounding areas especially among the Muslims that SP chief brushed aside all opposition, also from his son, Akhilesh Yadav and formalised the merger.
Incidentally, the QED merger was the first development which brought to the fore differences among members of the first family of the SP but after a flip-flop for months, the merger was done with the condition of keeping Mukhtar out.
Mulayam's preference of Ghazipur over his parliamentary constituency Azamgarh to launch his electioneering also prove the importance he has attached to the region and his faith in the Ansari brothers.
"There can be no comparison between Narendra Modi and Mulayam in terms of peoples support in Purvanchal. The former has no support base in Ghazipur and the turnout in his rally was only 40% of what was expected," he said, adding the SP's rally will be historic with all sections, including farmers, poor and youth showing keen interest.
"Mulayam Singh has always been saying that after Etawah it is Ghazipur which is like a home to him. He has always paid importance to Purvanchal and by deciding to start his campaign from there he has proved it. Now, it is the turn of the people of the area to reciprocate with same amount of love and loyalty," he said.
"This time round, the BJP is working to make a mark in Purvanchal despite knowing the fact that it is the bastion of Mulayam Singh and one has to be alert if there is an effort to pull the rug from under the feet," he stressed.
Ansari also trained guns at BJP president Amit Shah for repeatedly naming his brother Mukhtar Ansari as the criminal element while questioning the SP's resolve against criminals.
"Shah has been certifying the SP as 'goondon ki party' in his rallies and claiming that there are no goondas in his BJP. To know the reality, the BJP president will do good to look into the mirror himself," he said.
"We do not want a certificate from a person who was banished from his district and who faced murder charges. As for his claim that there are no criminals in the BJP, he can have a look at the criminal record of his state unit president Keshav Prasad Maurya who faces not one but more than ten cases against him," Ansari claimed.
"Just like no court of India has convicted Shah and Muarya in any case, neither my brother Mukhtar Ansari or myself have been held guilty by any court of the land...Shah needs to remember this," he said.