They mourn for Phoolan, jockey for power

NEW DELHI: The battle between Phoolan's sister Munni and husband Umed Singh is rapidly becoming a war. Not for possession of the slain MP's property but to take over her political mantle, specifically, secure the Mirzapur by-election ticket from the Samajwadi Party. And the setting for this on Monday was the 'Tehrvi', the 13th day of the prayer service.

It is likely that Munni may be even pitted against Umed Singh. If the SP finally chooses to nominate Phoolan's sister, her husband might try to get a ticket from some other party and try to cash in on the expected Phoolan sympathy wave.

With tension levels rising, as both make their political ambitions clear, it was left to Samajwadi party leaders Mulayam Singh Yadav and Amar Singh to effect a patch-up, if temporary, between the two.

But the day was not without its share of action as Munni's supporters claimed that the ceremony was organised by her and that Umed's intervention in the prayer service was undesirable. Munni's supporters resorted to fisticuffs with those of Umed Singh. It was a show of physical strength in a way between the two family camps.

The supporters from her side raised objections when Umed Singh tried to tie a 'pagri'. Munni said a 'havan' and feeding of brahmins was all they had proposed; tempers ran high until the matter was resolved after a heated debate.

It was an occasion which both Umed and Munni used to express their political ambitions. Both family members made public their desire to contest from Phoolan's constituency. And both had the same excuse. Each of them want to fulfil the wishes of Phoolan Devi, at least so they say.

On Monday Munni also retracted her earlier statement in which she had alleged that her brother-in-law Umed Singh was responsible for her sister's mysterious death.

"It was Pankaj (Sher Singh Rana according to the police version) and another person, who I can only recognise by face. They had come to our house in the morning and in the afternoon I saw them shooting my sister", the self-proclaimed eye-witness said.

After having the ceremonial lunch along with other party leaders, Amar Singh brought Munni and Umed Singh before the press at 44 Ashoka Road, leaving it for the public to decide who would be the next substitute for Phoolan.

But it was quite obvious that Munni might have an upper hand, as both Amar Singh referred mediapersons to Munni for statements. Mulayam spent more time talking to her also during his visit.

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Referred by: Mukundan C.M.
Published on:August 7, 2001
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