The sight of mafia don Mukhtar Ansari with Samajwadi Party (SP) general secretary Shivpal Yadav by his side, merging his party Quami Ekta Dal (QED) on Tuesday, June 21, with the SP, barely seven months before the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections, was a reminder of a similar incident that took place on the eve of 2012 polls.
Shivpal Yadav had then ushered in DP Yadav, another don, into the party fold. That was not exactly major news at that time since SP was known to induct strongmen. Bigger news unfolded the next day when this decision had to be annulled following vociferous protests from the then chief campaigner, Akhilesh Yadav.
The Yadav scion had then declared to put a stop to criminalisation of politics and cleanse the party of elements with unsavoury brush with the law.
People believed him.
The Samajwadi Party came to power with clear majority and Akhilesh was elected the chief minister.
It's highly unlikely for Shivpal to have bypassed the chief minister this time, or have him being kept him in dark about Mukhtar Ansari's entry into the Samajwadi Party.
That is why Akhilesh's silence on Mukhtar Ansari's entry is becoming all the more deafening.
|Mukhtar Ansari's criminal past may impinge on SP's fortunes in UP polls 2017.|
Who is Mukhtar Ansari?
Mukhtar comes from a highly respected family belonging to Ghazipur district. His grandfather, Mukhtar Ahmed Ansari, once served as the president of the Indian National Congress.
But, Mukhtar the grandson took to crime quite early in his life and soon made it big. He had his own gang and was accused in at least half a dozen high profile murders and abductions for ransom.
His victims included the likes of VHP general secretary, Nand Kishore Rungta, and BJP legislator, Krishnand Rai. He had a running feud with the Brijesh Singh gang and the two gangs were infamous for having ushered in the era of AK-47 in eastern UP.
Mukhtar contested his first Assembly election - actually a by-election - on a CPI ticket from Ghazipur in March 1994 from the confines of Ghazipur district jail. During jail time, he was used to having luxuries such as cooler, TV, VCR, ordering in food from outside, make calls from the jail superintendent's office and have his gunmen posted outside the jail boundary to ward off assassination attempts by Brijesh Singh's gang.
This writer had met the six-footer criminal inside the jail then. He, however, lost to the BSP candidate, Raj Bahadur, who was already a minister in Mulayam Singh Yadav cabinet.
Mukhtar was subsequently elected to the UP Assembly four times from Mau, twice as an Independent, bagging almost half of the total votes polled. He won the 2007 election on a BSP ticket but was booted out of the party when the then chief minister Mayawati realised that Ansari had not stopped his criminal activities.
Then he, along with his brother Afzal Ansari, formed a new party Quami Ekta Dal and managed to get three candidates elected in the Assembly in 2012 polls.
But why has he been inducted into the Samajwadi Party?
Mukhtar and his clan have significant clout in eastern UP districts of Mau, Azamgarh, Jaunpur, Varanasi and Ghazipur. All these districts have significant Muslim population - ranging between 18 to 28 per cent. Samajwadi Party aims to ensure its victory in these districts having 40 seats between them, using Ansari's electorally viable rapport. But, there are doubts whether the strategy will succeed because BSP is on an upswing. And Muslims are known to vote for the stronger non-BJP party. Moreover, accommodating many QED candidates would be difficult for the SP which has several sitting MLAs in these districts.
But, few thing are emerging from today's developments - that SP is unsure of its electoral prospects and therefore won't hesitate in roping in other parties. And any talk of probity should be limited to manifesto and ideology booklets.
As Lal Krishna Advani had famously remarked: "Governance has nothing to do with ideology."
Incidentally, SP chief, Mulayam Singh Yadav, has often advised his chief minister son to take tips on politics and governance from Advani.