Jailed Quami Ekta Dal MLA Mukhtar Ansari, an alleged mafia don, will not contest from Varanasi Lok Sabha seat against Narendra Modi to avoid division of anti-BJP votes in the high-profile battle — a situation which would likely favour AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s candidature.
The decision was announced by his elder brother and QED chief Afzal Ansari in Varanasi Thursday. Mukhtar is lodged in Agra jail in connection with the murder of BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai.
Contesting on a BSP ticket in 2009, Ansari gave a tough fight to Murli Manohar Joshi and finished a close second, while being in prison then too.
Muslim leaders had reportedly persuaded QED to keep Mukhtar away from the race. The QED, however, denied the same. Mukhtar has already announced candidature from Ghosi Lok Sabha seat.
“My brother will not contest from Varanasi. We are now hoping that all the secular parties get together and decide to support a particular candidate, who can give a tough fight to Modi. We are ready to support such a consensus candidate,” Afzal told The Indian Express.
The theory being floated around was that Mukhtar’s presence would polarise the situation in favour of Modi and, therefore, a Hindu candidate, who could be acceptable to Muslims, should be backed by the community. Kejriwal might emerge as that consensus candidate, sources said.