Who is Ajay Rai? A history-sheeter, he lost to Modi by 5 lakh votes in 2014 Lok Sabha election

The Congress on Thursday ended its Varanasi suspense and announced the candidature of Ajai Rai from the temple town. The move ended weeks of speculation over the party fielding Priyanka Gandhi from the Varanasi Lok Sabha seat. Rai will contest against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Samajwadi Partys Shalini Yadav and independent candidate Tej Bahadur Yadav. Yadav is a former BSF Constable who was sacked from service after he exposed the corruption within the security by posting a video on social media. Varanasi parliamentary constituency will go to polls in the last phase on May 19, 2019. A five-time MLA, Rai is contesting from the Varanasi seat for the second time. In the 2014 general elections, Rai had finished third securing 75,000 votes in the fight after PM Narendra Modi and Aam Aadmi Partys National Convenor and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal. Rai lost to Modi by a margin of more than 5 lakh votes. Ironically, Rai began his political career as a member of BJPs students wing. Visuals from Prime Minister Narendra Modis roadshow in Varanasi. #LokSabhaElections2019 pic.twitter.com\/YSAjYbWHx8 Rai won the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections from Kolasala constituency consecutively three times on a saffron party ticket between 1996 and 2007. After being denied ticket ahead of 2009 Lok Sabha elections, Rai resigned from BJP and joined Samajwadi Party. He contested against senior BJP leader Murli Manohar Joshi but failed to win. In 2012, Ajay Rai won the 2012 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections from Varanasis Pindra seat on a Congress ticket. In 2015, the Congress leader was arrested for violence in temple town during the imposition of ban on idol immersion in Ganga river. However, in 2017 state assembly polls, BJPs Avadhesh Singh defeated Rai. Rai was an accused in a total of 16 criminal cases and has also been booked under the Gangster Act and Goonda Act. On October 13, 2015, the former lawmaker was detained under the National Security Act (NSA). However, he was granted bail by the Allahabad High Court after spending seven months in jail. According to reports, Rai was a member of the notorious Brijesh Singh gang. He joined the gang after his elder brother Awadhesh Rai was murdered allegedly by Mukhtar Ansari in 1994. Rai also has criminal cases against him at the Chetganj police station.