Former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mayawati on Friday said that jailed gangster-turned-politician and Bahujan Samaj Party leader Mukhtar Ansari would not be fielded as a candidate for the state elections scheduled early next year.

She announced that no “mafia or strongman” would get a ticket from her party for the upcoming state polls. The BSP chief said that her party would instead field its Uttar Pradesh unit president Bhim Rajbhar from the Mau constituency.

Ansari is a five-time MLA from the state’s Mau constituency. He is currently lodged in Banda jail in Uttar Pradesh in connection with an extortion case.

Ansari was also an accused in the murder of former Uttar Pradesh MLA Krishna Nand Rai in 2005. In 2019, a court in Delhi had acquitted Ansari and all other accused in the 2005 murder case.

There are 52 cases registered against Ansari in total, and 15 of them are currently under trial, according to The Indian Express. The cases had been registered in several districts of Uttar Pradesh, including Mau, Ghazipur and Lucknow.

On Friday, the BSP chief said that the reason behind her decision to not field Ansari from the seat was taken to “meet people’s criteria and expectations”.

“...therefore, I appeal to the party in charge to take special care while selecting the party’s candidates so that if the government is formed, there is no problem in taking action against such elements,” Mayawati said in a separate tweet.

She added that this was her party’s attempt to ensure “a rule of law, by law”. “...the BSP’s resolve is to also change Uttar Pradesh’s image now,” Mayawati added.

Hours after Mayawati’s announcement, Asaduddin Owaisi’s All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen offered to field Ansari as its candidate in the Assembly elections, PTI reported.

“If Ansari wants to contest the election, the doors of AIMIM are open for him,” the party’s national spokesperson Syed Asim Waqar said.

Waqar also gave an open call to all Muslims “who want to contest elections” to join the party and assured them of tickets to contest the polls. “Votes of their communities [other parties] do not transfer to Muslims,” he said.