UP elections 2017: After losing twice, can BJP's 'Khabbu bhaiya' turn third time lucky in Faizabad?

The 39-year-old leader is extremely popular among youngsters in Faizabad who claim that though he is not an MLA, he is no less a leader

Indra Pratap Tiwari, popularly known as ‘Khabbu Tiwari’ or ‘Khabbu bhaiya’ is going to contest the election from Gosaiganj seat of Faizabad district on Apna Dal-Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ticket. His day starts at 7 in the morning and ends at around 2 in the night. He along with his supporters is working day and night to win his seat in the elections. Tiwari is contesting the election against two-time MLA and ‘mafia’ Abhay Singh.

The 39-year-old leader is extremely popular among youngsters in the district, who claim that though he is not an MLA, he is no less a leader. “Khabbu bhaiya vidhayak nahi hain abhi to kya hua, vo koi vidhayak se kam thode hi hain (So what if he isn’t an MLA, he is no less than a legislator),” said Abhinav Shukla, a BA student.

“In normal days, Khabbu Bhaiya’s cavalcade comprises of 15 SUVs. He is a very down to earth man. He is always there to solve our problems. All student leaders come to him for guidance and they also take tips from him for elections,” said Shravan Dixit, a student.

Speaking to InUth about student politics, Indra Pratap Tiwari says: “I personally have a lot of belief in student politics. I myself came into the mainstream politics by first stepping into the student politics. However, the previous governments have sidelined them and fooled students. Youngsters now believe that PM Modi will work towards the betterment of students.”

So far, Tiwari has fought two elections but hasn’t been able to register a win. In 2007, he contested the election from Samajwadi Party ticket and in 2012 from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).

Though he is extremely popular, he hasn’t been able to win the number game. Call it fate, but in a seat where contestants getting 52,000-54,000 votes are deemed winners, despite getting 62,000 votes, Tiwari lost in 2012. The voting percentage saw a sharp increase in 2012 and Tiwari lost against his opponent by a narrow margin.

“Haarein ya jeetein, humare liye vidhayak hain Khabbu bhaiya. Kyunki kaam to unke saare vidhayak waale hi hain (It doesn’t matter whether he wins or not, he is an MLA for us as he does a lot of work for us like an MLA should do),” said Raju Singh.

Due to the Ram Mandir issue, several Muslims and Hindus stand divided along communal lines, especially in the Faizabad-Ayodhya region. However, Tiwari’s popularity is such that he has the backing of Muslims too.

The reason is that whenever there’s a communal clash, Tiwari has always resolved the issue instead of adding fuel to the fire or by suppressing the people of the minority community. “Khabbu Tiwari is our brother, We never had any problem with him, he helps everyone across the district without caste or religion discrimination,” Bablu Khan, a resident of the area, claims.

“For me, humanity comes first. What’s there in a Mandir or Masjid issue? The priority for me is development,” Tiwari asserted adding that students, youngsters should get jobs. “UP should be developed. What will they do with Ram Mandir?”

But what does he have to say when BJP leaders like Keshav Prasad Maurya raise the issue? “Every leader has his/her own thinking. I don’t believe in communalism. I can never spread hatred. These are senior leaders, they would be right in whatever they are saying,” he says.

Tiwari added that there is a strong Modi wave in the state. Confident of BJP winning the polls, he said: “People are fed up with the Samajwadi Party’s hooliganism, corruption and the poor state of law and order. People will select BJP as an alternative as they believe in the party and PM Narendra Modi.”