MAU (UTTAR PRADESH): Once known for notoriety and mafia, Mau in Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh is all set for a triangular contest this time. People of the area credit Yogi Adityanath and his government for putting an end to an era of terror in the state post coming to power in 2017. As they see it, those who used to terrorise people by roaming unabashed in open jeeps are now confined to wheelchairs.
From 1990s to 2010, Mau witnessed several gang wars and riots. During these years, Mukhtar Ansari, who entered politics in 1995 became a symbol of terror in this Purvanchal region of Uttar Pradesh with his effect on several adjoining districts.
The locals say that such was the terror of Mukhtar Ansari that people didn’t have the guts to come forward as a witness against him.
In 2022 assembly polls, now, Mukhtar’s son Abbas Ansari is contesting from Mau assembly seat as Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) candidate, which is an alliance partner of Samajwadi Party (SP).
The BSP has fielded its state president Bhim Rajbhar while the BJP has fielded Ashok Singh, who is a witness against Mukhtar in his brother’s murder case.
Manoj Rai, zilla panchayat chairman of Mau told The New Indian, “If you look at the governments in the last 15 years here in Uttar Pradesh, they used to patronise Mukhtar Ansari.”
He said that due to support from previous governments, his (Mukhtar’s) terror continued to rule unabashed in Mau. “Whether it was SP or BSP, he was patronised. But after BJP government-led by Yogi Adityanath came to power, his (Mukhtar Ansari) powers were seized,” Rai said, pointing out at the stern action of BJP government on criminals and mafias in state.
According to Rai, who is the first zilla panchayat chairman from BJP in Mau, earlier governments failed the people. “Though people tried to stand up to Mukhtar, they didn’t get any support from the previous governments.”
“Earlier no one dared to come as a witness against Mukhtar Ansari. And once when Ajay Rai tried to bring the witnesses to court, then there was an incident of bomb blast in court premises and witnesses were attacked,” he said.
Those cases are still pending in courts, he shared. “But for the first time now, Mau has a candidate as strong as Ashok Singh, who came forward as a witness in the case of murder of his brother Ajay Singh in 2009,” he said.
On the use of bulldozers to raze the illegal buildings and properties of manual in Uttar Pradesh and its effect on elections in Mau, Rai said, “As the bulldozer of Yogi Adityanath baba is razing the illegal properties of Mukhtar Ansari, soon he will be forced to migrate.”
“He has realised that now his terror won’t work and it is the reason why he is on back foot and he has fielded his son (Abbas) in the elections,” he claimed.
He also alleged that earlier all the big contracts or businesses in Mau were controlled by Mukhtar Ansari.
“He used to charge levy from train rakes, fish businessman and used to get government contracts. All this happened during the rule of the previous government. But, now under Yogi Adityanath government, his power and stature has weakened and all his illegal activities have come to a halt. This is also the reason why we (BJP) will win these elections,” Rai claimed.
According to Rai, people see a strong candidate in Ashok Singh and believe that he is capable of giving a fitting reply to Mukhtar Ansari.
Another local from Mau, PC Rai said, “He was five-term MLA and he also fought unsuccessfully in Lok Sabha elections.”
He alleged that Mukhtar Ansari used to control all the businesses in Mau. “He used to control the coal rakes, fish business and used to get the contract to his close aides and on their support he used to win in the elections,” he alleged.
He rued that despite Mukhtar Ansari winning from Mau, he didn’t work on development in his five terms.
“The people of Mau didn’t get any benefit here as most of the time he was behind the bars. He didn’t do any work in Mau. He was also a mafia and he was a party hopper, who used to switch to SP or BSP,” he accused.
PC Rai also said that once when there were riots in Mau, Yogi Adityanath was stopped from making a visit. “But after coming to power, he bulldozed the alleged illegal properties of Mukhtar Ansari. And now all properties of his close aides have been attached and his people are nowhere to be seen. Not even to campaign for his son for the elections,” he said.
According to the locals, Mau was not always a terror-struck region. According to PC Rai, “There was peace in Mau earlier, but after the death of the former MP Kalpnath Rai, things changed. After his death law and order situation deteriorated. All that, however, has changed after the Yogi government came to power. Peace has returned in Mau.”
He also accused the SP and BSP of protecting Mukhtar. “Other than Mukhar Ansari who enjoys the patronage of BSP and SP, Abbas’s uncle, Afzal Ansari who is a sitting MP from BSP is the brain behind all this. They all have been associated with these two local parties,” PC Rai added.
BSP district president of Mau, Raj Vijay also exuded confidence of his party winning the seat. “We will win from Mau as we have support of all people. Earlier Mukhtar Ansari contested from BSP and won from Mau but Mayawati has fielded BSP state chief Bhim Rajbhar from the seat and we will win from this seat.”
On Mukhtar Ansari’s son fighting the elections, he said: “People of Mau have decided not to vote for the political heir of Mukhtar Ansari in this election. And his undefeated streak of last 25 years will come to an end this time. No more political inheritance will work in Mau”.
When pointed that Mukhtar was once a BSP candidate and whether his BSP association would harm the party, he said, “Our party is a cadre-base party. Mayawati banks on party workers and same vote bank is shared with the party candidate. This time, Mukhtar Ansari also figured that he would lose if he fought and therefore fielded his son instead,” he argued.
When asked if it would be tough to fight BJP since Yogi Adityanath’s strict action against mafias and crackdown on their illegal properties has been received well by the people, he said, “BJP is no where in fight in Mau. We gave a strong fight to Mukhtar in 2007. In 2012, too, we lost by few votes. We will win this seat. Bulldozers will have no impact here on voters.”
The election in Mau is scheduled in seventh phase on March 7. Yogi Adityanath and Congress general secretary Priyanka Gandhi Vadra have campaigned for their candidates in the district.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Home Minister Amit Shah had also attacked the previous governments for patronising the criminals in the state and hailed Yogi Adityanath for taking stern action against them.
In this election, it will be interesting to see if Abbas Ansari, who is being seen as political heir of Mukhtar can fill his shoes and take on the aggressive BJP and other parties.
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