Whether it is committing heinous crimes or winning crucial elections, the crime syndicate headed by underworld don Mukhtar Ansari still holds ground in eastern Uttar Pradesh. Most of the seats won by the Samajwadi Party-Bahujan Samaj Party (SP-BSP) alliance have been influenced by the Ansari gang.Jailed in Punjab, dreaded mafia don Mukhtar Ansari and his absconding aide Atul Rai built an unbeatable partnership to overcome the "TsuNaMo" effect in Purvanchal. While on the run and without even meeting the voters, Atul Rai managed to win the Ghosi seat.Meanwhile, Mukhtar Ansari's brother Afzal Ansari stunned Union Minister Manoj Sinha, drubbing him by a comfortable margin in Ghazipur.Equally important is Mukhtar Ansari's reach among the poor, especially those who are Muslims, in the adjoining areas of Lalganj, Jaunpur and Azamgarh where the BJP lost to the "gathbandhan" (alliance). The Robinhood type of image which Mukhtar Ansari has in Purvanchal helped both Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav to secure wins in the pockets influenced by Mukhtar Ansari's underworld syndicate.However, BSP leader and former Rajya Sabha MP Balihari Babu told IANS that the Ghosi (Mau) constituency had always been a seat dominated by the socialists."It's the socialist mindset of the people here which has defeated the communal forces. You cannot say that somebody's personal influence decided the results. Likewise, in neighbouring Ghazipur, Manoj Sinha might have done some development work, but the voters were those who rejected a communal party," said Balihari Babu, said to be close to Mayawati.
Sources said the Uttar Pradesh government had anticipated that Mukhtar Ansari's influence in this region would likely work on the voters and had shifted him to Punjab. But, Mukhtar Ansari remote controlled the campaign in Ghosi and Ghazipur from behind the bars."Mukhtar (Ansari) had earlier sought a ticket for his son in Ghosi from Mayawati. But the BSP supremo refused to entertain the don's request citing that two members of a family cannot be allowed to contest from adjoining constituencies. Later, Mukhtar decided to field Atul Rai, his close associate from Ghosi. Within no time, Rai was awarded a ticket by the BSP," said Hemant Tewari, a senior journalist based in Lucknow.By the time Rai could organise his team in Ghosi, he was booked in a rape case and subsequently had to flee.In his absence, Mukhtar Ansari oversaw the campaign from a jail in Ropar, Punjab. Riding against the massive Modi wave in the cow belt, Rai was the only one who secured a big win even without campaigning in the constituency.Police sources said that Rai would now have to surrender in court before taking oath as a Lok Sabha MP.While Mukhtar Ansari and his aides have been successful in the just-concluded polls, another underworld don, Harishankar Tewari, was not so fortunate. Tewari's son, Bheesham, who contested on a BSP ticket from Sant Kabir Nagar in eastern Uttar Pradesh, lost to the BJP by a slender margin.Mukhtar Ansari, 55, a science graduate, is a cricketer-turned-mafia don. His rise in politics was mainly attributed to his closeness to both Mulayam Singh Yadav and Mayawati. Involved in over 50 cases of gangland shootouts, murder, extortion, kidnapping for ransom and gun running, he has been an MLA in Uttar Pradesh for several years.In 2010, Mayawati expelled him from the party for his criminal activities. Subsequently, he formed the Quami Ekta Dal but in 2017, the don merged his party with the BSP. Now, once again, he has exhibited his political clout by winning two seats and helping the gathbandhan win another three in eastern Uttar Pradesh.