Quami Ekta Dal (QED), an eastern UP-based political outfit with two MLAs, including jailed gangster-turned politician Mukhtar Ansari, merged with the Samajwadi Party Tuesday, inviting sharp reactions from the Opposition, which said that the ruling party was trying all “fair and foul means to retain power by hook or by crook” when the state goes to polls early next year.
Mukhtar’s brothers Afzal Ansari, who is also QED president, and Sibgatullah Ansari, who is also the other party MLA, announced the merger at SP state headquarters in presence of ruling party’s UP in-charge and Cabinet minister Shivpal Singh Yadav.
Terming it a “homecoming” for the QED leaders, Shivpal said Afzal had earlier been an MLA and MP from Samajwadi Party. “Today, both the brothers are coming back to home in Samajwadi Party with this merger. Their presence will strengthen the party in eastern UP,” Shivpal said.
He said that more QED workers will take formal membership of the SP soon in Ghazipur and adjoining districts of eastern UP. QED, which was formed in 2010, claims to have have hold on Muslim voters in Eastern UP.
Shivpal claimed that Mukhtar has not joined SP yet.”At present only those present here are joining the party. We did not have any talks with Mukhtar,” he said, while admitting that the jailed MLA had voted in support of the SP candidate in the Rajya Sabha elections.
A four-time MLA from Mau, Mukhtar, who is in jail for the last 10 years for his alleged involvement in the murder of former BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai, had announced to contest the 2014 Lok Sabha elections against BJP’s Prime Ministerial candidate Narendra Modi from Varanasi but withdrew later. Bihar Police is keeping a tab on him in connection with the murder of journalist Rajdeo Ranjan.
Afzal told reporters that he was associated with SP in 1994 but had had formed QED following certain circumstances. “Now, again due to some circumstances, QED is being merged in SP,” Afzal said.
Asked about the “current circumstances,” Afzal claimed that there were several forces that wanted QED to contest in Eastern UP separately so that votes get divided and “these parties” could take advantage. “So we decided that we will not waste our votes. Secular forces should come on single platform and that is why QED decided to merge with SP,” Afzal said.
Afzal said that his workers will work under banner of SP and they will not give any opportunity to Opposition to criticise the ruling party.
He also accused the Narendra Modi government for not fulfilling the promises made during Lok Sabha polls. “Two years of Narendra Modi government is a story of failure and the issues raised by the BJP during polls to lure voters were not taken care of after it formed government. There is an attempt to vitiate the atmosphere and disturb social harmony and malign the image of the UP government,” he added.
QED had contested on 43 seats of Eastern UP in 2012 Assembly polls, but only two of its candidates — Mukhtar from Mau and Sigbatullaha from Mohammadabad— had won.
When mediapersons sought Akhilesh’s comment on the issue, he evaded a direct reply and merely said: “If party workers perform their responsibilities, then there is no need of another party.”
The merger, meanwhile, gave a fresh ammunition to the Opposition parties.
Congress spokesman D P Singh said the merger shows “growing frustration” within the ruling party which is trying all “fair and foul means to retain power by hook or by crook”.
BJP said the the merger showed that the ruling party was “dependent” on criminals to win Assembly polls as it no longer enjoys people’s support. “The Akhilesh Yadav government does not have faith in people. It has faith in criminals and is dependent on them in the polls. We have seen earlier in Mathura land grab incident and Kairana issue that it shelters criminals. When people get the chance to give their verdict in the polls, they will teach it a lesson,” BJP national secretary Shrikant Sharma said in new Delhi.
In a similar vein, party spokesperson in UP, Vijay Bahadur Pathak, said: “Earlier, it roped in Beni Prasad Verma and Amar Singh, both of whom used to spew venom at Mulayam Singh Yadav, and now it is tying up with those parties which it kept at arms length during the previous polls”.
Regarding Shivpal’s contention that there has been no talk with Mukhtar about his joining SP, the BJP spokesman said, “In a party of two MLAs, how can one join and another not.”
WITH PTI inputs