Bringing Mukhtar Ansari in may be Mayawati's masterstroke to clinch UP
Having the disgraced don as the 'law and order mascot' could further BSP's objective of consolidating Dalit-Muslim votebanks.
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In 2007, there was a poll slogan of the BSP which had gained a lot of traction: "Chadh gundon ki chaati pe, Mohar lagegi haathi pe". Later, with passing time, it got changed into: "Gundey chad gaye haathi pe, patthar rakh lo chaati pe".
Life in 2017 has come a full circle for Mayawati as her trump card of law and order is falling flat, with "Don Mukhtar" and his clan as its new mascot. In a press conference held in Lucknow on Thursday, Mayawati announced the return of "baahubali" Mukhtar Ansari and his clique, along with the merger of their party - the Quami Ekta Dal - with the BSP.
Mayawati said that she would give three tickets, one each to Mukhtar, his son and his brother, and mentioned that false cases have been foisted on them. Who was once a pariah has now transformed himself into the golden boy, as per BSP's new scheme of things. This announcement by Mayawati led to predictable outrage both within the media, as well as by other political parties.
But from a purely political perspective, the only question that needs to be asked at this stage is: Is this a smart political move or not?
The answer is, that in the current scheme of things, the move to induct the Mukhtar Ansari clan could very well be a masterstroke.
That Mayawati has been aggressively wooing Muslims in Uttar Pradesh is no secret. She had already given as many as 97 tickets to them, which eventually turned into a century with the induction of the Ansari clan. This figure of 100 is high for a single community by each and every standard.
Mayawati knows that this election is a do-or-die battle for her, and given the social engineering being done by the BJP, a Dalit-Muslim combine was the best political combo to go after. Political uncertainty within the Samajwadi pari-war came as music to her ears, as she thought the SP inner feud would make the BSP the de facto choice, riding high on the TINA factor for the Muslims.
But things changed as rapidly for the SP, as it did for the BSP. With the Akhilesh faction getting the cycle symbol, it raised hope for the Muslim voters who had been watching the internal SP tussle with great anxiety. With Akhilesh clinching the rein of SP, now they had something concrete to back.
Then came the "masterstroke" of SP aligning with the beleaguered Congress, thereby sending by far the strongest signal to the Muslims that with this new alliance, all is not lost for them. How effective this will be for the SP-Congress combine remains to be seen, but this alliance did give jitters to Mayawati's dream of forging an unchallenged Dalit-Muslim combination plank.Mukhtar Ansari has joined Mayawati's BSP with his son and brother. [Photo: ANI/Twitter]
While the BSP thought that it was on a strong wicket in western UP, it knew that it was on a sticky wicket as far as eastern UP was concerned. Desperate times called for desperate measures and it led Mayawati to the doorstep of Mukhtar Ansari.
By inducting Ansari, she has virtually gained an edge in eastern UP, especially in North Varanasi, Mau and Ghazipur areas. Mukhtar Ansari and his Quami Ekta Dal have significant presence in around 12-15 Assembly seats here, which, along with Mayawati's impregnable Dalit vote bank, can result in a good number of seats for her.
Apart from that, she can also use the influence of Mukhtar Ansari to make further inroads into gaining the trust of UP's substantial Muslim vote bank, particularly in the rest of the Poorvanchal area.
Nevertheless, a BSP leader conceded: "There could be some negative publicity as far as Mukhtar Ansari is concerned, but if we look at the larger picture, this will benefit us overall, as things now look much brighterin eastern Uttar Pradesh."
Another BSP leader from eastern UP said that he is not overtly worried about the negative message. "Elections are all about winning and if the goonda raj of Samajwadi Party can be whitewashed into good governance, the same can be done for Ansari as well."
He further added: "Irrespective of what you say, with this induction, UP's election scorecard, without even having a single vote been cast, is BSP-3, SP-Congress-0 and BJP-0.
Assembly elections in UP have never been more interesting and challenging than in 2017.