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Samajwadi Party Has Lost Steam in UP After Phase 3: Afzal Ansari

As Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls in the fifth phase in eastern parts of the state on Monday, CNN-News18’s Sumit Pande traveled to Varanasi to speak to a important personality who will have an impact in this election.

Sumit Pande | CNN-News18

Updated:February 27, 2017, 10:47 AM IST
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Samajwadi Party Has Lost Steam in UP After Phase 3: Afzal Ansari
Qaumi Ekta Dal, now BSP, leader Afzal Ansari. Photo: Sumit Pande
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As Uttar Pradesh goes to the polls in the fifth phase in eastern parts of the state on Monday, CNN-News18’s Sumit Pande traveled to Varanasi to speak to a important personality who will have an impact in this election.

We were instructed to wait at a designated spot at 10.15 pm sharp. On reaching, my mobile phone rang and I was informed that the person we intended to meet would arrive in another five minutes. Exactly at twenty minutes past ten, four Suvs shepherded by a bike arrived at the nondescript hotel in downtown Varanasi. A solitary rickshaw plied on the street outside as we were ushered in to the hotel lobby to meet Afzal Ansari, former MP and brother of don turned politician Mukhtar Ansari. Mukhtar's Qaumi Ekta Dal recently merged with BSP.

Q: What are the prospects of BSP in this belt?

A: I have been campaigning for the party from Pratapgarh to Ayodhya and now Poorvanchal. SP has lost steam after third phase. In Ayodhya SP leader Azam Khan lost his cool on seeing BSP flags fluttering across the city. We are doing very well.

Q: How do you explain merger with BSP?

A: It was Mulayam Singh Yadav who called me to seek merger of my party. He showed me how Qaumi Ekta Dal and SP votes together would have won three more LS seats in 2014 general elections. He himself reasoned that if we strike an alliance and do not merge the party, he would not be able to assure transfer of his party votes to us. It is time and circumstances which lead to a lot of things in life and politics. Prolonged persecution tends to generate sympathy. People watch things very closely.

Q: You complain about lack of development in Poorvanchal but all these years you and your brother have dominated politics here?

A: You call us sadak chaap and mafia. Do you know this Afzal Ansari contested and won three elections from Mehmoodabad in Ghazipur on Communist Party of India CPI ticket. I have learnt my politics from Comrade Sarju Pandey. I have led and mobilised unorganised farm labour. I come from the family of freedom fighters of Ghazipur, the same town which in 1942 Quit India Movement declared itself free from the British. Scores of our people were hanged. It was in 1995 at the behest of MSY did I join SP. While working for the CPI I fought not only the feudal forces but also the Naxal elements which were trying to spread in eastern UP. Do you think I have won elections playing Muslim card when less than eight percent electorate in my constituency are minorities.

Q: Who is your main contender here?

A: BJP has faltered in ticket distribution in this entire belt. You will see its impact and also it's repercussions on BJP leaders after the polls. In Varanasi, out of eight just tell me if BJP is in contest in even two. What was Shyam Dev Roy Chaudhary's fault that a seven time MLA he was denied ticket by the BJP.

SP, I have said, is out of race after the third phase. On the other hand BSP is getting support from not only minorities and a section of the upper caste especially Brahmins. We will do very well in the last two phases. The outcome of the fifth phase in the Devipatan region, I feel, would be very important in determining the outcome of the polls.

| Edited by: Ashish Yechury
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