Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati Friday attempted an image makeover for her party as she announced that it would not field bahubalis (strongmen) or mafia members in the 2022 Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections and dumped Mau MLA Mukhtar Ansari, the jailed gangster-turned-politician, as a poll candidate. Mayawati said the party will instead field state chief Bheem Rajbhar from the constituency. Rajbhar had lost to Ansari, then an Independent, from Mau in 2012.
Just hours after the announcement, the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) opened a door for Ansari, currently incarcerated in Banda district jail on the charges of criminal intimidation and extortion. The AIMIM state chief Shaukat Ali said if Ansari approaches the party, it would give him a ticket and induct him. “The cases lodged against him are under trial. BSP used him and threw,” Ali said.
1. बीएसपी का अगामी यूपी विधानसभा आमचुनाव में प्रयास होगा कि किसी भी बाहुबली व माफिया आदि को पार्टी से चुनाव न लड़ाया जाए। इसके मद्देनजर ही आजमगढ़ मण्डल की मऊ विधानसभा सीट से अब मुख्तार अंसारी का नहीं बल्कि यूपी के बीएसपी स्टेट अध्यक्ष श्री भीम राजभर के नाम को फाइनल किया गया है।
— Mayawati (@Mayawati) September 10, 2021
Mayawati, meanwhile, said the BSP has resolved to put in place the rule of law in Uttar Pradesh to change the state’s image. The former chief minister said in a series of tweets that she has asked party leaders to keep that resolution in mind while short-listing candidates. “In upcoming assembly polls, the BSP’s effort will be to not field ‘bahubali’ and mafia elements. So, the name of Bhim Rajbhar, the BSP UP president, has been finalised from the Mau assembly seat in place of Mukhtar Ansari,” she said in a tweet in Hindi. Ansari has had an on-again-off-again relationship with the BSP over the years, getting expelled and reinducted multiple times.
He was elected the MLA from Mau in 1996 on a BSP ticket. In the next two assembly polls in 2002 and 2007, he won from the same seat as an Independent candidate.
Before the 2009 Lok Sabha polls, Ansari rejoined BSP but the party fielded him from Varanasi, where he lost to BJP veteran Murli Manohar Joshi. In April 2010, Mayawati expelled Ansari from the party citing his alleged involvement in criminal activities. Mukhtar’s brother Afzal Ansari was also removed.
Ansari then floated his own political outfit, Quami Ekta Dal (QED), and was again elected from Mau in 2012.
Ansari’s family again returned to the BSP in 2017 after Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav denied a merger of QED with his party.
In January 2017, Mayawati termed the criminal charges against him “politically motivated” and “unproven”.
Speaking to reporters at her residence, she had then announced the candidature of Mukhtar on a BSP ticket from Mau, his son Abbas from Ghosi and his eldest brother Sibgatullah from Mohammadabad. Mayawati had then said that her previous governments had “always ensured no injustice was done to people who were accused of serious criminal offences by their opponents because of their influence in their community”.
“Our government also protected such people and gave them importance. One special example is the minority community family of Mukhtar Ansari who, because of their rising influence, were implicated in several cases by their rivals to malign their image,” she had said. Mayawati had added Ansari and his relatives were inducted into the BSP in 2009 and contested polls as party nominees, but they had to dissociate from the BSP because of Samajwadi Party’s pressure. “They have expressed regret and that is why they have been taken back,” she had said. While expelling them in April 2010, the BSP had cited their “continued involvement in criminal activities”.
Last month, Mukhtar’s brother Sibghatullah Ansari, a former MLA from Mohammadabad in Ghazipur district, had joined Samajwadi Party in Lucknow.
Speaking to The Indian Express on Friday, Sibghatullah said: “Mayawati ji is party president and can take a decision on ticket distribution. It is funny that Mukhtar has become a bahubali for her today and was not so not earlier. She took action against Mukhtar because I joined Samajwadi Party.”
About his brother Afzal Ansari who is BSP MP from Ghazipur, Sibghatullah added that Mayawati as BSP president is free to take any decision. Afzal was elected MP from Ghazipur in 2019 on BSP’s symbol and as a joint candidate of BSP-SP.
On whether he will talk to SP president Akhilsh to take Mukhtar in party, Sibghatullah said, “woh to waqt batayega.”