Gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari has joined Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party, ahead of the UP Assembly elections.

At a press conference on Thursday, Mayawati welcomed Ansari, who used to be a member of the the Samajwadi Party. Justifying her move to induct him in the party, Mayawati said that the criminal charges against the politician are false. “My government has always been tough on criminals and maintaining law and order, but at the same time, I ensure that no one is fabricated in false cases. Mukhtar Ansari’s family is one such example. His family has been framed in false case,” she said.

She also gave tickets to Ansari’s son and brother. Ansari will be contesting from the Mau Sadar district. BSP chief Mayawati has been actively trying to garner the Muslim vote in UP, and has so far given 99 seats to members of the Muslim community.

Alka Rai, the widow of murdered MLA Krishna Nand Rai, condemned Mayawati’s move, saying that the former CM was sheltering a criminal. The gangster, along with his brothers, are accused of Rai’s murder, and are still in jail.

“Does Mayawati know that the ongoing court trial against them is nearing completion? No less than the CBI had charge-sheeted them. Now just for vote-bank politics, Mayawati has done this. How will she ensure safety for anyone?, Alka Rai told the Economic Times. 

Mayawati has been the chief minister of UP four times. Her Bahujan Samaj Party claims to work for the weaker sections of society, such as Dalits and religious minorities.

Here are some reactions about her newly formed alliance with Ansari:

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