Saurabh Sharma | Sep 18, 2018 | 5 min read
By Saurabh Sharma
Lucknow: Self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist and controversial leader, Amit Jani, is once again in the news. This time for offering a Lok Sabha ticket to Shambhulal Regar, a man accused of burning and killing a Muslim man, last December in Rajasthan. A video of the hate crime through which the police had identified the accused, Regar, had gone viral then on social media.
Amit Jani, chairperson of local political outfit, the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena, claims that Regar has accepted his offer to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Agra seat. Jani stated that his party will contest on the issue of Hindutva, and only in five constituencies across UP - Agra, Aligarh, Noida, Mathura and Firozabad.
When asked about how he came to such an idea, Jani said that during a trip to Rajasthan, he met people who supported Regar, lauding his effort to save Hindutva.
"People of Rajasthan want that the BJP should offer Regar a ticket in the upcoming polls, but the Vasundhra Raje government likes people like Yunus Khan, who hesitate in chanting Bharat Mata Ki Jai,” said Jani.
“It was us who approached Shambhulal to fight the elections, and he accepted our offer,” said Jani. As they could not afford to contest elections from Rajasthan, the UP Navnirman Sena decided to offer Regar a ticket from Agra. He further said that charges against Regar have not been proved in court yet, and if proven, then he would not be given the ticket.
As per Constitutional amendments to the Representation of People (RP) Act 2013, unless an individual is convicted of a crime, they are free to contest elections. Even convicts can contest elections six years after having served their jail term, as per the provisions of the RP Act.
According to senior lawyer Ramanand Pandey, from the Allahabad High Court, contesting elections is the constitutional right of a person - “Shambhulal Regar is liable to contest the election, because he has not been convicted by a court. If convicted, he would then not have been able to contest.”
Jani said that he met Shambhulal once in jail, and is regularly in touch with his family. In defense, he added that if mafia-turned politicians like Mukhtar Ansari, who was charged and acquitted of murder, and Atiq Ahmad, who is accused of murder, can become lawmakers, then why not someone like Shambhulal?
For the election, Regar’s wife and brother would be campaigning, according to Jani.
“We have talked to Regar’s family, and his wife and brother have gotten ready to campaign for him, since Shambhulal would not be able to do it, being lodged in jail.”
Once Regar files his candidature for the polls, campaigning would begin. “We are making arrangements for the family to stay here and campaign for Shambhulal and get as many votes as possible for him,” said Jani. No one from Regar’s family was available for a comment and their home in Rajsamand, Rajasthan, has been locked.
The Navnirman Sena will reveal more details in a press conference on September 19 in Agra.
According to Jani, there is a threat to Regar’s life in jail. He claims that a ‘special community’ is trying to kill the accused. “Shambhulal released a video from jail where he said that his life was in danger and a man from a specific community was sent to his cell without his consent and that made him uncomfortable. Later it came to his notice that the man was from Muslim community and his intentions were not good.” Offering Shambhulal the Lok Sabha seat is also an attempt to save the life of someone, who saved his own religion, rationalizes Jani.
The Sena leader revealed that he is in talks with other nationalist and Hindutva outfits working in Uttar Pradesh, to form a front that would deal with anti-national and anti-Hindutva forces with non-violence. A decision regarding the formation of this group will be taken soon, as their first priority is to start campaigning for Shambhulal Regar.
A former close aide of Amit Jani from the time when he was with the Samajwadi Party, on the condition of anonymity, told Firstpost that Jani has ‘only money and power in mind’.
“He is not associated with any ideology or party. His stunts are always in favor of the ruling party, in a bid to catch the attention of the party chief or chief minister. He was earlier praising Akhilesh Yadav and now with this, he is trying to get the attention of Yogi Adityanath,” he said, adding, “Amit is a clever man and knows how to stay in the headlines.”
BJP spokesperson for UP, Rakesh Tripathi says, “He (Regar) has been doing this to remain in the news. If someone is giving ticket to a person accused of murder, then it shows that the person offering the ticket has a criminal mindset as well. He is trying to gain the media’s attention by commenting on people like Yogi Adityanath.”
(Saurabh Sharma is a Lucknow based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters, a pan-India network of grassroots reporters)
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