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.
- Mukhtar Ansari, accused of murder and more, joins BSP
- Our duty to help dreaded gangsters reform: BSP chief Mayawati
- Ansari refused affiliation with Samajwadi Party by Akhilesh Yadav
Mr 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 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."
In a huge outreach to Muslims, who form 18 per cent of the state, Mayawati has selected 97 candidates from the community, a record for her party.
Mr Ansari formed his party Quami Ekta Dal in 2010. Imprisoned in 2005, he won the last election despite not being able to campaign for it, from Mau, which remains his constituency with Mayawati withdrawing three candidates already announced by her party, the Bahujan Samaj Party or BSP, for the seats allotted 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 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.