Why mafia dons like Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed are not contesting elections in UP this time

The Samajwadi Party-led alliance has denied tickets to these mafia dons to blunt the BJP’s campaign that it politically harboured such criminals, say analysts

Atiq Ahmed
Atiq Ahmed

NH Correspondent/Lucknow

This round of the Uttar Pradesh elections would be unique because this would be the first time in many decades that none of the big mafia dons like Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed would be contesting the polls. This, political pundits say, is an Opposition strategy to blunt the BJP’s attack on the Samajwadi Party-led alliance.

Though Mukhtar recently got bail in an 11-year-old case from the MP/MLA Court of Mau, he decided not to contest the election this time. He was lodged in Banda jail.

Instead of Mukhtar, his son Abbas Ansari is in the fray from the Mau Sadar assembly constituency in eastern Uttar Pradesh as a candidate of the Suheldev Bharatiya Samaj Party (SBSP), an ally of the Samajwadi Party (SP).

Mukhtar’s nephew Shoaib Ansari has filed his nomination from the Mohammadabad constituency. Shoaib is the son of Sibgatullah Ansari, Mukhtar’s elder brother.

Mukhtar Ansari has been representing the Mau Sadar seat since 1996.

Atiq Ahmed, a former five-time MLA from Allahabad West and former SP MP, has also decided not to contest the election this time.

Politically speaking, the SP alliance has denied tickets to these mafia dons to blunt the BJP's campaign line that it had given tickets to criminals. In their election campaigns, BJP leaders have repeatedly targeted Akhilesh Yadav, the SP president, on that count.

"In [the] last one year, the Yogi government had demolished the property of Mukhtar Ansari and Atiq Ahmed, claiming that these were built illegally. If these people were given tickets, it would have empowered the BJP to target the SP alliance. So, strategically, the party maintained a distance from these mafia dons and instead gave tickets to their family members," Manoj Bhadra, a political analyst, said.

Abbas Ansari told this reporter that he was forced to join the electoral fray because a conspiracy was being hatched so that his father couldn't file his nomination. "My father is a five-time MLA from Mau Sadar. If he does not contest the election, it is the son’s duty to carry forward the legacy of his father," he said, adding, "From now on, Mau is my karma bhoomi."

Mukhtar Ansari retained the seat as an independent candidate in 2002 and 2007, and as a Quami Ekta Dal candidate in 2012. In 2017, he won the seat on the BSP ticket.

This is Abbas Ansari’s second election, as he had contested the 2017 assembly election from Ghosi on the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) ticket and finished second. Phagu Chauhan, now serving as Governor of Bihar, had won that seat by over 7,000 votes.

Mau will go to the polls in the seventh and last phase of the election on March 7. Two phases of the seven-phase Uttar Pradesh assembly elections have already been held on February 10 and 14.

The BJP has fielded Ashok Singh, BSP its state president Bhim Rajbhar and the Congress Madhavendra Bahadur Singh from Mau Sadar.

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