Lucknow: Self-proclaimed Hindu nationalist Amit Jani is in the news yet again: This time for offering a Lok Sabha ticket to Shambhulal Regar, the man accused of burning and killing a Muslim man in Rajasthan last December. A video of the alleged hate crime through which the police identified Regar went viral on social media. Jani, the chairperson of the Uttar Pradesh Navnirman Sena, a local political outfit, claimed Regar has accepted his offer to contest the Lok Sabha polls from Agra. Jani said his party will contest on the issue of Hindutva in five constituencies across Uttar Pradesh: Agra, Aligarh, Noida, Mathura and Firozabad.
Asked about how he came to such an idea, Jani said during a trip to Rajasthan, he met people who supported Regar and lauded his effort to “save Hindutva”. “The people of Rajasthan want the BJP to offer Regar a ticket in the upcoming polls, but the Vasundhara Raje government likes people such as Yunus Khan, who hesitate to chant Bharat mata ki jai,” said Jani. “We approached Regar to fight the elections and he accepted our offer.”
The party offered Regar a ticket from Agra as they could not afford to contest elections from Rajasthan, Jani added. He further said that charges against Regar have not been proved in court, and Regar would not be given a ticket if they were proven. As per the 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, according to the Act.
Senior lawyer Ramanand Pandey, who practices in the Allahabad High Court, said contesting elections is an individual's constitutional right. “Regar can contest the election because he has not been convicted by a court,” Pandey said. Jani said he met Regar once in jail, and is regularly in touch with his family. Jani defended himself by saying that if persons such as Mukhtar Ansari (who was charged with murder and acquitted), and Atiq Ahmad (a murder accused) can become lawmakers, then why not someone like Regar?
“Since Regar is in jail, his brother and wife will campaign for him,” Jani said, and added that the campaign would begin once Regar files his nomination. “We are making arrangements for the family to stay and campaign for Regar and get as many votes as possible for him,” said Jani. Regar's family remained unavailable for comment and their home in Rajasthan's Rajsamand is locked.
The Navnirman Sena will reveal more at a press conference in Agra on 19 September. Jani claimed there is a threat to Regar’s life in jail. “He 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,” Jani alleged. Offering Regar the Lok Sabha seat is also an attempt to save the life of someone who saved his own religion, Jani claimed.
When an accused in the Akhlaq lynching case and a deputy chief medical officer can be killed inside jail, then who is Shambhulal Regar? Jani asked. Jani revealed that he is in talks with other nationalist and Hindutva outfits in Uttar Pradesh to form a front to 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 Regar, Jani said.
A former close aide of Jani—from when he was with the Samajwadi Party—speaking on the condition of anonymity, said Jani has ‘only money and power in mind’. “He is not associated with any ideology or party,” the ex-aide said. “His stunts are always in favour 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 with this he is now trying to get the attention of Yogi Adityanath.” He added, “Jani is a clever man. He knows how to stay in the headlines.”
BJP Uttar Pradesh spokesperson Rakesh Tripathi said, “Regar is 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
Updated Date: Sep 18, 2018 22:06 PM