Lucknow: The Asaduddin Owaisi-led All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has offered gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari a ticket to contest the Uttar Pradesh assembly elections next year, after BSP supremo Mayawati dropped the party’s jailed MLA.
Ansari is the sitting BSP MLA from Mau assembly constituency, but Friday, Mayawati tweeted that he will not figure on the BSP list, as the party has decided not to field “mafia or bahubalis”, the local term for musclemen.
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
The BSP has instead decided to field its state chief Bhim Rajbhar from Mau, who had lost to Ansari from the same seat in the 2012 assembly polls. Back then, Ansari had contested as a candidate of the Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED), a political outfit he had floated.
Soon after Mayawati’s tweet, the AIMIM’s state president Shaukat Ali released a statement, offering tickets to not only Ansari but also his family members.
“Mukhtar is in jail but he is not convicted; he can contest elections according to the rules,” Ali told ThePrint. “He is one of the tallest leaders in UP politics, a five-term MLA, and so we definitely want such a senior politician in our party.”
The don with influence in eastern UP
The 58-year-old Mukhtar Ansari, who is currently in Banda Jail, is charged in over 50 criminal cases, including murder and kidnapping. He has been in jails across UP on various charges since 2005.
Ansari was only brought back to Banda Jail in April this year after spending over two years in a Punjab prison. Acting on a Supreme Court order, the Uttar Pradesh Police took custody of the MLA at Rupnagar Jail to bring him back to Banda prison.
Ansari is the grandson of Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, an early president of the Indian National Congress between 1927-28, and also one of the founding members of Jamia Millia Islamia, and the son of Subhanullah Ansari, a Nagar Palika chairman in Mau district in 1971. His maternal grandfather Mohammad Usman was a brigadier in the Indian Army and a Maha Vir Chakra awardee for sacrificing his life in the India-Pakistan conflict of 1948.
UP-based writer Sandeep Pandey, who recently penned Varchasv, a book on gang wars in the state, told ThePrint that Ansari has been involved in the world of crime for decades.
“Mukhtar was originally a member of the Makhanu Singh gang. Makhanu Singh’s brother Sadhu Singh was Mukhtar’s friend. After the murder of Sadhu Singh, Mukhtar entered the crime world,” Pandey said. “In the 1980s, the Makhanu Singh gang clashed with another led by Sahib Singh, resulting in a series of violent incidents. Later Brijesh Singh, a member of Sahib Singh’s gang, formed his own gang and took over Ghazipur’s contract work mafia in the 1990s.”
According to Sandeep, Ansari’s gang competed with Sahib Singh for the control of government projects in the Ghazipur region.
“These contracts are related to coal mining, railway construction among others. This is how he entered the world of business,” Pandey said.
The politics of a muscleman
Mukhtar Ansari was elected the MLA from Mau in 1996 on a BSP ticket. In the next two assembly polls — 2002 and 2007 — Ansari won the same seat as an Independent candidate.
Sources close to him say that due to his ‘Robin Hood’ image, he has managed to keep hold of the constituency. He has strong connections in eastern UP’s politics.
“In his constituency, Mukhtar’s family act like mass leaders. They help the poor a lot. They fight for their rights,” a source close to the family said. “Though they have a mafia image, for the locals, they are their true leaders, available all the time to listen to the common man’s queries in their chaupals. That’s how he developed the ‘Robin Hood’ image.”
Mukhtar rejoined the BSP in 2017, before the last UP elections, after his talks with the Samajwadi Party failed. At that point, Mayawati had given him a clean chit. “My government has always been tough on criminals. But I also ensure that no one is implicated in false cases,” she had then said. “Mukhtar Ansari’s family is one such example. His family has been framed in false cases.” The former CM had also campaigned for Ansari in Mau.
However, sources in the BSP told ThePrint that the party has now dropped the gangster-turned-MLA as it wants to focus on a “positive campaign”.
“The party will go into the elections with a clean image; that’s our strategy. We are planning to work on a positive campaign,” a BSP functionary told ThePrint. “In the coming days, we will launch some slogans related to this too.”
The BSP’s decision comes in wake of the Yogi Adityanath government cracking down on the don-turned-politician.
Data with the UP Home department shows that Ansari’s assets worth Rs 200 crore are being demolished as of now, including property in Lucknow, Mau and several other districts.
The government has also claimed that it has seized and demolished property worth Rs 1,000 crore, allegedly illegally acquired by gangsters in the state, over the past four years.
(Edited by Arun Prashanth)