LUCKNOW: Mukhtar Ansari, once named in more than 40 criminal cases – including murder and kidnapping – and currently in jail in Lucknow, has joined Mayawati’s party. Proclaiming that it is “our duty to help people who lose their way,” the Dalit icon and former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister announced her new recruits today.
Ansari, 56, joins Mayawati with his son and brother, who do not have criminal records. All three will run for election from the family stronghold in Eastern Uttar Pradesh. “There are bigger goondas (criminals) in other parties,” Mayawati said as justifica-tion for acquiring the contro¬versial don-turned-politician. She also said that the cases against him, at least some of which were filed during her earlier terms as Chief Minis¬ter “are not genuine.”
In a huge outreach to Muslims, who form 18 per cent of the state, Mayawati has selected 97 candidates from the community, a re¬cord for her party.
Ansari formed his party Quami Ekta Dal in 2010. Im¬prisoned in 2005, he won the last election despite not be¬ing able to campaign for it, from Mau, which remains his constituency with Mayawati withdrawing three candi¬dates already announced by her party, the Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP, for the seats al¬lotted to the Ansaris.
Last year, the Samajwadi Party had announced that Mr Ansari’s party was merging with it based on a deal made by Shivpal Yadav, who is un¬cle to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The deal was declared unacceptable by Akhilesh Yadav, who has recently tri¬umphed in a raucous feud for power with his uncle and fa¬ther, Mulayam Singh.
The Ansaris are from a very well-known political family in UP – Mukhtar Ansa¬ri’s grandfather Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari was national president of the Congress par¬ty – and are seen to have con¬siderable influence in about 20 assembly constituencies in Ghazipur, Mau, Azamgarh, Ballia, and Varanasi.