BSP chief Mayawati on Tuesday sought votes for jailed gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, arguing that his victory will erase his "bahubali (muscleman)" image.
"I urge you to vote in large numbers, thereby ensuring a comprehensive victory for Mukhtar Ansari…once Mukhtar wins the assembly polls, his 'baahubali' (muscleman) image will gradually diminish," she said.
The BSP supremo sought support for Mukhtar in an election meeting in Mau in eastern UP which goes to polls on March 4 in the sixth phase.
Mukhtar, who faces 40 criminal cases, including those of murder and kidnapping, recently joined BSP after the merger of his Qaumi Ekta Dal (QED) with ruling SP failed to take place due to strong objections from Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav.
QED merged with the BSP to consolidate its Muslim vote bank in some constituencies of eastern districts where the Ansari brothers have their strong influence.
BSP has fielded him from Mau, the seat he holds in the outgoing Assembly. He was given custody parole by a trial court from February 16 to March 4 to let him campaign in the election. The Delhi High Court, however, set aside the lower court order.
Mukhtar, who has been in a Lucknow jail since 2005, is facing trial for his alleged role in the murder of BJP legislator Krishnanand Rai and his six supporters that took place the same year. Rai's widow had got the case transferred to Delhi from Uttar Pradesh on grounds that Mukhtar could influence and intimidate witnesses hampering a fair trial in the state.
Mayawati also accused SP and BJP of having double standards about such "strong arm" politicians and said both the parties have "soft corner" for people like Raja Bhaiya, whom former CM Kalyan Singh of BJP had described as "kunda ka gunda."
But, both these parties help Raghuraj Pratap Singh, popularly known as Raja Bhaiya, in elections, she alleged.
Whenever these parties come to power, they make him minister, she said.
Raja Bhaiya was minister in a BJP government in the state and currently he is a cabinet minister in Akhilesh government.