LUCKNOW: Ajay Mishra, the sitting MP from Lakhimpur Kheri and junior home minister in Modi cabinet has been in the eye of storm since Sunday after eight persons, including four farmers, were killed in violence in his constituency.
The high point of the incident is that Mishra’s younger son Ashish is the main accused in the case lodged by the farmers. They alleged that he had run his SUV over a group of protestors mowing down two on the spot.
Ajay Mishra was inducted into the Modi cabinet in the latest reshuffle in July and is the only Brahmin face from Uttar Pradesh.
Just a few weeks after his induction into the Union Cabinet, Mishra had challenged the veracity of the ongoing farmers' protest over three contentious farm laws saying that it was more of a political show of 10-15 farmers. He had claimed that he was able to end the agitation in no time. This statement of Ajay Mishra had irked the farmers and a tussle had set off.
On tracking Ajay Mishra’s journey from being a student leader in Lakhimpur Kheri to Modi cabinet, it comes out that belonging to a Brahmin family of UP’s largest district, he started as an independent Zila Panchayat member in 2009.
In due course, he joined the saffron bandwagon and got a party ticket from the Nighasan assembly segment in Lakhimpur Kheri in the 2012 polls. Mishra won the seat with a respectable margin. Two years later in 2014, the BJP gave him a ticket to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha election from Lakhimpur Kheri which he won for his party and repeated his performance in 2019.
Besides having clout among the Brahmins, who are a dominant community in Lakhimpur, Mishra got overwhelming support from Kurmis, another dominant community in the district. The Kurmi support to Mishra is attributed to his ‘political guru’ former UP minister and senior BJP leader Ram Kumar Verma. Verma had nurtured Mishra since Zila panchayat polls in 2009.
The local sources of Lakhimpur claim that Mishra is a popular leader in the district. Holding frequent ‘Janata Darshans,’ Mishra, believed to be sensitive to people’s problems, delivers justice on spot resolving the issues.
People also attribute his rise in the party despite belonging neither to RSS nor being a grassroots cadre of the party to his caste. People in Lakhimpur believe that Mishra capitalise at a time when the party was looking for a Brahmin face to give a ticket.
Allegedly short-tempered, Mishra has a history on the crime front as well. As per the local BJP sources, he is believed to be a strongman of the district more so after getting a berth in the Modi cabinet.
However, in 1996 a history sheet was opened against Mishra at Tikunia police station but it was closed a few months later. Before that in 1990, a case was lodged against Mishra 1990 under sections 323 (punishment for voluntarily causing hurt), 324 (voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means), and 504 (intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace) of the Indian Penal Code.
In 2000, he was named in a murder case in Lakhimpur Kheri and was acquitted in 2004. It is still pending in High Court as the kin of the deceased had challenged the sessions court order.
As far as Ajay Mishra’s son Ashish is concerned, he sought a BJP ticket in 2017 but was denied. At present, Ashish looks after the rice mill and petrol pumps owned by the family in Lakhimpur Kheri.
However, the sources claimed that Ajay Mishra, who now wants a party ticket for his son Ashish, pushes him on public platforms making him deliver speeches during the rallies.