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. Mayawati announced the merger of gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari’s Quami Ekta Dal (QED) with her party and gave tickets to him and two of his family members on Thursday, a move that underlines her desperation to woo the minority vote. With this, the total number of tickets BSP has given to Muslims in the assembly elections has gone up to 99.
“There are bigger goondas (criminals) in other parties,” Mayawati said as justification for acquiring the controversial don-turned-politician. She also said that the cases against him, at least some of which were filed during her earlier terms as Chief Minister “are not genuine.”
Muslims account for roughly 19% of UP’s population and dalits, Mayawati’s core votebank, account for 21%. However, Muslims have got a much bigger pie of BSP tickets compared to dalits, who have got only 87.
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 uncle to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The deal was declared unacceptable by Akhilesh Yadav, who has recently triumphed in a raucous feud for power with his uncle and father, Mulayam Singh.
The Ansaris are from a very well-known political family in UP – Mukhtar Ansari’s grandfather Dr Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari was national president of the Congress party – and are seen to have considerable influence in about 20 assembly constituencies in Ghazipur, Mau, Azamgarh, Ballia, and Varanasi.