For this don, retaining fortress is a daunting task

Don ko pakadna mushkil hi nahin, namumkin hai (it is impossible to catch the Don) is the popular dialogue in the Bollywood blockbluster “Don.” But in real world, this  don appears to have been foxed in his own fortress in the communally sensitive town known for Banarsi silk saris.

For the mafia-don-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari, a history sheeter, Mau, about 325 km from Lucknow, has been more or less like a pocket borough. He has won from the assembly seat several times with huge margins. Notwithstanding his background, Ansari  had endeared himself to people as he is a local and is easily accessible. That he is from the weaving community, the single largest voting block here, has only reiterated his proximity to them.

The long criminal history never came in the way  of his victory. Ansari, according to the police records, faces as many as 35 criminal cases, including those of murders, kidnappings and extortions. That he comes from a distinguished and highly respected family comes only as an irony. His maternal grandfather Usman Ansari, a brigadier in the Indian Army, was awarded “Mahavir Chakra” posthumously for bravery in the 1948 Indo-Pak war.

Even as an independent candidate, Ansari secured 70,000 votes in 2002 assembly polls while his nearest rival could get only half of what he got. The situation changed in the later years and Ansari’s name cropped in the murder of BJP legislator Krsihnanand Rai as well as in some other killings. In the last polls, Ansari, who had contested as an independent, barely scraped through by seven thousand votes. His nearest BSP rival Vijay Pratap Singh showed then that Mukhtar was not invincible in Mau. Ansari later joined the ruling BSP to elude police action.

Since the last assembly polls, Ansari has been mostly spending time in jail for one or the other case. His name also cropped up in the murder of a contractor Manna Singh in 2009 and a year later in the killing of a witness in the Ramsingh Maurya case. The BSP expelled him in 2010 after the killings and the police cracked down his “empire” to haul him back to jail. He is currently lodged in the Agra jail.

After failing to secure a ticket from a major party, Ansari is contesting on his own Quami Ekta Dal outfit again. Though the caste equations make him a favourite again, the presence of two candidates from his own community is compounding his difficulties.

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