|Born||7 October 1969
Varanasi (Uttar Pradesh)
|Political party||Indian National Congress (2012–present)|
|Bharatiya Janata Party (1996–2009), Samajwadi Party (2009)|
Ajay Rai is an Indian politician and member of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly. He is a five-time MLA from Uttar Pradesh. A local strongman in the Varanasi area, Rai began his political career as a member of the Bharatiya Janata Party's student wing. He won the Legislative Assembly elections from the Kolasla constituency three times in a row between 1996 and 2007 on a BJP ticket. He left the party after being denied a Lok Sabha ticket. He then joined the Samajwadi Party and unsuccessfully contested the 2009 Lok Sabha elections. Subsequently, he won the 2009 Legislative Assembly by-election from the Kolasla constituency as an independent. He then joined the Indian National Congress. After the Kolasla constituency ceased to exist post-delimitation, he won the 2012 Assembly elections from the newly created Pindra constituency, which comprises a sizeable portion of the former Kolasla constituency.
Ajay Rai was born in Varanasi to Parvati Devi Rai and Surendra Rai, who were natives of Ghazipur district. He is known as a local bahubali (strongman), and is a history-sheeter of the Chetganj police station. He became an associate of Brijesh Singh, after his elder brother Awadhesh Rai was shot dead in Lahurabir area, allegedly by Mukhtar Ansari and his men in 1994. Earlier, he had been associated with Brijesh Singh and Tribhuvan Singh in several criminal cases since 1989. In 1991, his name had figured in an attack on the Anil Singh, the deputy mayor of Varanasi. In his FIR, Anil Singh stated that Ajay Rai and others had fired at his jeep in the Cantonment area on 20 August 1991. Rai was later acquitted in the case.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)
Rai began his political career as a member of the BJP's youth wing. In 1996, Rai fought the Vidhan Sabha elections from the Kolasla seat on a BJP ticket. He defeated the nine-time CPI MLA Udal by a narrow margin of 484 votes. He went on to retain the seat in the 2002 and 2007 elections, defeating Awadhesh Singh of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) by much larger margins. A Bhumihar himself, he relied on the Bhumihar and Brahmin vote banks in the Kolasla constituency.
Samajwadi Party (SP)
In 2007, Rai denied the rumours that he was planning to join the Samajwadi Party (SP), stating that the SP was responsible for "all the ills plaguing the State". However, in 2009, he resigned as an MLA, after BJP refused to give him a ticket for contesting the Lok Sabha elections from Varanasi. He then joined SP, and contested the elections against BJP's Murli Manohar Joshi. He lost the elections, getting the third highest number of votes after Joshi and Mukhtar Ansari. His supporters allegedly campaigned for Joshi to ensure the defeat of his arch-rival Mukhtar Ansari in a communally-polarized environment.
After losing the Lok Sabha elections, he contested the Kolasla by-elections as an independent. He alleged that BSP had pressurised him to join the party, and when he refused, his security cover was reduced. During the campaigning, he accused some police officers of pressurising his supporters to work for the candidate of the ruling BSP. When he protested against the alleged harassment, he and seven of his supporters were arrested. Rai won the by-elections. In 2010, Rai staged a sit-in to protest the arrest of the local corporator Sanjay Singh and his associate Jitin Jha. The two had been arrested for assaulting and robbing a hotel owner. After Rai refused to end his protest, he and his supporters were arrested.
Indian National Congress (INC)
After the Kolasla constituency ceased to exist post-delimitation, Rai won from the 2012 Assembly elections from the new Pindra constituency, which comprises a sizeable portion of the former Kolasla constituency. He routed the BJP candidate, who received just 3,000 votes. When he contested the 2012 elections, Rai was an accused in 16 criminal cases, and was booked under the Gangster Act and Goonda Act. According to him, he had been framed in four cases by the Bahujan Samaj Party regime, while other cases were "mostly over".
On 5 October 2015, Rai was arrested for his alleged role in the violence and arson in Varanasi during a march by seers and other local leaders against police action on protesters opposing ban on immersion of Ganesha idols in the Ganga river.
|Year||Election||Constituency||Party||Result||% of vote||Source|
|1996||Vidhan Sabha||Kolasla||Bharatiya Janata Party||Won||26.67%|||
|2002||Vidhan Sabha||Kolasla||Bharatiya Janata Party||Won||37.54%|||
|2007||Vidhan Sabha||Kolasla||Bharatiya Janata Party||Won||28.27%|||
|2009||Lok Sabha||Varanasi||Samajwadi Party||Lost||18.61%|||
|2009||Vidhan Sabha (by-poll)||Kolasla||Independent||Won|||
|2012||Vidhan Sabha||Pindra||Indian National Congress||Won||29.31%|||
|2014||Lok Sabha||Varanasi||Indian National Congress||Lost||7.34%|||
- Congress wants a Brahmin against Modi, not Digvijaya
- "AcT I: tainted candidates take the floor". Indian Express. 24 March 2009.
- "Strongman Ajay Rai dreads the 420 tag given by party". DNA. 14 April 2014.
- Bhupendra Pandey (20 March 2009). "Varanasi polls get more sensitive". Indian Express.
- Bhupendra Pandey (12 September 2009). "5 cases, 20 days, UP don acquitted as witnesses, cops turn hostile". Indian Express.
- "It's outsider versus local in Varanasi, says Ajay Rai". The Hindu. 9 April 2014.
- Seema Chishti (23 April 2007). "BJP tie-up doesn't go down well in Apna Dal land". Indian Express.
- "Kolasala assembly seat heading for a big fight". The Hindu. 20 April 2007.
- "No plan to join SP: BJP MLA". Hindustan Times. 22 March 2007.
- Omar Rashid (9 April 2014). "It's outsider versus local in Varanasi, says Ajay Rai". The Hindu.
- "Former BJP MLA to contest Kolasla bypoll as independent candidate". DNA. 5 October 2009.
- "Rai moves court against withdrawal of addl security". The Times of India. 19 July 2010.
- "Independent candidate for Kolasla by-poll arrested". Zee News. 28 October 2009.
- "BJP, SP, Congress Get Drubbing in UP Bypolls". India TV. 1 November 2009.
- "Kolasala legislator arrested for creating ruckus". The Indian Express. 28 August 2010.
- Virendra Nath Bhatt (7 February 2012). "History-sheeters dominate Congress' list of electoral candidates". Tehelka.
- "Constituency-wise results: Varanasi". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 17 May 2014.
- "229 – Kolasla Assembly Constituency". 15 April 2014. Election Commission of India.
- "Lok Sabha Election 2009 – Uttar Pradesh: Constituency: Varanasi (77)". Empowering India. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "Uttar Pradesh Assembly Election 2012: Constituency: Pindra (384)". Empowering India. Retrieved 15 April 2014.
- "Constituency-wise results: Varanasi". Election Commission of India. Retrieved 5 June 2014.