Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati has dropped jailed party MLA Mukhtar Ansari as a candidate for next year's state election, after years of betting on the controversial gangster-turned-politician. She said Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP)'s UP chief Bhim Rajbhar would be the candidate from Mau instead of Mukhtar Ansari.
"BSP's efforts will be that no mafia or strongman gets party ticket in the upcoming UP assembly polls. Keeping this in mind, not Mukhtar Ansari but Bhim Rajbhar has been finalised for the Mau constituency," Mayawati tweeted this morning.
Reports suggest that Mukhtar Ansari may also be thrown out of the party in its move to preempt attacks by the ruling BJP and UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath portraying the BSP as a party of criminals and strongmen.
Ansari, 58, had rejoined the BSP after 7 years in 2017, before the last UP election after his talks with the Samajwadi Party failed.
Mayawati had said at the time that he had been framed by the Samajwadi Party government of Akhilesh Yadav.
"My government has always been tough on criminals. But I also ensure that no one is fabricated in false cases. Mukhtar Ansari's family is one such example. His family has been framed in false cases," she had said.
She had also campaigned for Mukhtar Ansari in Mau. His victory would erase his "baahubali (strongman)" image, the BSP chief had said then.
Mukhar Ansari is charged in over 50 criminal cases, including murder and kidnapping. Fifteen cases have gone into trial. He has been in jails across UP on various charges since 2005.
Earlier this year, he was transferred from Punjab, where he was jailed for extortion, back to a prison in UP.
His first election victory was in the 1996 polls as a BSP candidate from Mau.
Since then, he has won several elections, even from jail.
When Yogi Adityanath came to power in 2017, the focus intensified on Ansari and his network. Nearly 100 of his associates were arrested and jailed. Some were even killed in encounters with the police.
In 2019, the gangster secured his shift to a Punjab jail on account of a pending trial - an embarrassment for the UP government, which finally succeeded in getting him back in April.