View: Why Akhilesh Yadav is demanding a probe into Mukhtar Ansari's death - Hindustan Times
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View: Why Akhilesh Yadav is demanding a probe into Mukhtar Ansari's death

Apr 08, 2024 11:36 AM IST

Asaduddin Owaisi jumped into the fray. After achieving some degree of success in Maharashtra and Bihar, UP looks tempting. It is this that has Akhilesh worried.

The Samajwadi Party chief took time off from his hectic campaigning schedule to visit Ghazipur on April 7 to meet Mukhtar Ansari’s family members. He has demanded a probe led by a Supreme Court judge to investigate allegations that Ansari was poisoned in jail. He has accused the BJP government of demolishing institutions that protect democracy. And, he has backed the narrative that Mukhtar Ansari was not a brutal and ruthless mafia don-turned-politician but a messiah of the masses.

Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav meets family members of late gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari(PTI)
Samajwadi Party chief Akhilesh Yadav meets family members of late gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari(PTI)

There is something desperate about the manner in which Akhilesh Yadav is trying to transform Mukhtar Ansari from a remorseless killer into a much-loved hero.

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The reason is the Muslim vote.

Across cities and towns in Uttar Pradesh, the average Sunni voter is not just demoralised but also confused. In Rampur, for instance, Azam Khan, a local hero who once ran Rampur like a fief, is constantly in and out of jail.

BJP now wins even if Muslims vote en masse against its candidate. In Prayagraj, sullen Muslims on the banks of Ganga say they may not even vote this time as the “results” are “pre-ordained”. Muslims do praise the central government for the slew of welfare schemes. Yet, most treat the BJP as an existential enemy.

Amid all this, Asaduddin Owaisi has decided to jump into the fray. After achieving some degree of success in Maharashtra and Bihar, UP looks tempting.

It is this that has Akhilesh Yadav worried.

The 2024 Lok Sabha battle looks already like an uphill task for the SP. In the 2022 assembly elections, the SP-led alliance delivered its best-ever performance with a 33% vote share. But that was still behind the more than 45% garnered by the BJP. In the 2012 assembly elections, the SP had won a comfortable majority with less than 29% of the vote share. Most of the 2022 allies have dumped Akhilesh Yadav, the most prominent being Jayant Chaudhary.

To top it all, Uttar Pradesh is gripped by the fervour surrounding the consecration of the Ram Lalla idol in Ayodhya. Even Yadavs, hardcore SP supporters, seem to be swayed. Akhilesh can sense the ground slipping from under his feet.

Even if it loses ground this time, Akhilesh knows he must live to fight another day. Without the complete backing of the Muslim vote, even 2027 would be difficult.

The homage to Mukhtar Ansari needs to be seen in this context.

(Sutanu Guru has been a journalist and author for 35 years. He is the executive director, CVoter Foundation)

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