A story on don Atiq Ahmad which I did in Allahabad last year in February during Uttar Pradesh elections but couldn't appear in print
Akhilesh poster boy but not Shivpal
Allahabad: A board fixed on railing of the roof reads ‘Public relations office, Ateeq Ahmad, ex-MP, Samajvadi Party, 6, Karbala, GT Road, Allahabad’.
This has pictures of Mafiosi-turned-politician Ateeq (54) and his brother Khalid Azim Ashraf (38), an ex-MLA on one side and that of father-son duo Samajvadi Party patron Mulayam Singh Yadav and chief minister Akhilesh Yadav on the other.
Slogans on the top read ‘Samajvadi Party zindabad, Mulayam Singh Yadav zindabad and Akhilesh Yadav zindabad’.
It may sound ironical to the followers of ex-state SP chief Shivpal Yadav that the board doesn’t have any image of or ‘zindabad’ for him whereas it was his love for Ateeq and another Mafiosi-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari that cost him his position in nephew Akhilesh Yadav’s cabinet, led to a high drama in the state capital for several months, brought more than two decades old Samajvadi Party to the brink of split and relegated Mulayam-Shivpal to the stature of persona non-grata in the party.
Sitting in the office surrounded by local residents and also armed security personnel ex-MLA Ashraf, a co-accused in BSP MLA Raju Pal murder case, glances through a sheet of papers which has in it names of constituencies where don and his team ‘are helping the party and its candidates’ to boost their prospects as was claimed by Ashraf.
Though Ateeq was dumped as the party candidate by the party’s national president Akhilesh Yadav, the government’s soft corner for him was well discernible.
He was sent to Naini jail about a week back in connection with an attack on Sam Higginbottom Institute of Agriculture Technology and Science (SHIATS), Naini’s staff. But the arrest came almost a month after an FIR was lodged and that too only after high court rapped the police.
Ateeq’s absence in Muslims dominated Allahabad west constituency, his bastion, due to his being in jail ahead of polling couldn’t have come at a better time for a slain MLA’s wife and sitting BSP MLA Puja Pal (37). However, she still feels threatened.
“Ateeq is in jail because of me. He cannot sit idle. I face threat to my life but the problem is election cannot be fought from home”, said two-time MLA Puja talking to the Hindustan Times while she got onto an open jeep to lead a procession of more than 500 bike riding youths from Khuldabad.
BJP has fielded late Prime Minister Lal Bahadur Shashtri’s grandson Sidharth Nath Singh (53) while SP Richa Singh (29).
Ashraf rubbished the threat perception and dubbed the FIRs filed against Ateeq and him as ‘certificates’ rewarded to them for raising their voice for the minority community and the OBC’.
“Had he been content with merely being an MLA and MP there would have been hardly any FIR against him. He wants to become a leader but whenever we raise our voice for downtrodden section of society we start facing troubles”, said Ashraf who along with Ateeq had absconded for 5 years after BSP chief Mayawati came to power in 2007.
Ateeq has been an accused in June 1995 state guest house episode too in which Mayawati was allegedly attacked by the then SP MLAs including Ateeq to save the then Mulayam Singh Yadav government which was reduced to minority after BSP withdrawing its support to the government.
In reply to a question Ashraf claimed Ateeq was not dropped as a candidate but he himself chose to withdraw from the contest.
“We also decided none of the family members would contest from Allahabad west or from anywhere this year as whenever we contest elections all the forces against us get together to implicate us in false charges”, he added.
Shivpal Yadav made Ateeq the party’s candidate on Kanpur Cantt seat in December last year despite apparently vehement opposition by chief minister Akhilesh Yadav. The latter dropped him as the candidate the moment he took the party’s reins in his hands.
As per the affidavit Ateeq had filed at the time of filing his nomination papers for 2014 Lok Sabha elections he faces serious charges under various sections of IPC in at least 18 cases which include certain cases of murder.