Fielding jailed gangster Mukhtar Ansari and his family in the assembly election proved to be a wrong move for Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati.
Barring the don’s own seat, Mau, the Ansaris could not win, or influence, any seat in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Mayawati gave tickets to two other Ansaris — Mukhtar’s brother Sibgatullah for the Mohammadabad seat and son Abbas (Ghosi) — to cash in on their clout in the region.
The Ansaris were first pampered by Mulayam Singh Yadav only to be snubbed by Akhilesh Yadav in the aftermath of a family feud before they turned to the BSP.
Mayawati accommodated them ahead of the polls hoping the Ansari factor might help the BSP add Muslims to its Dalit vote base. This was not to be, as Saturday’s outcome showed.
Ansari, a four-time MLA from Mau Sadar, defeated Mahendra Rajbhar of Suheldev Bartiya Samaj Party by 9,698 votes to retain the seat.
But Abbas lost to BJP’s Fagu Chauhan by 6,703 votes in Ghosi and Sibgatullah ended up 32,727 votes behind BJP winner Alka Rai in Ghazipur’s Mohammadabad seat.
Afzal, Mukhtar’s third brother, had won the Mohammadabad seat from 1985 to 1993 on a Communist Party of India ticket.
A non-Ansari had won the seat only twice before, and Alka was one of them.
She won the by-poll after Mukhtar allegedly killed her husband and BJP’s 2002 winner Krishnanand Rai.
“It was a total sweep by the BJP. Victory in eastern UP was out of question for Mayawati, who was decimated everywhere,” Manoj Singh, a political observer, said.
Ansari, in jail since 2005, is said to enjoy a considerable influence in Varanasi, Mau, Azamgarh and Ghazipur districts in UP’s Purvanchal or eastern region.
In 2010, he and his brothers formed the Quami Ekta Dal (QED) that won three seats in the 2012 assembly elections.
The QED merged with the BSP before the 2017 polls. But the BSP could manage only eight seats in east UP comprising 102 seats.
This is Mukhtar’s second stint with the BSP. His electoral journey began when he won the Mau seat on a BSP ticket in 1996. He won the seat as an independent in 2002 and as a QED candidate in 2012.