New Delhi (TIP): Bahujan Samaj Party chief Mayawati Friday, Sept 9, 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.
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.