Suheldev Bhartiya Samaj Party (SBSP) president Om Praksh Rajbhar on Thursday said his alliance with the SP will support jailed BSP MLA Mukhtar Ansari in the upcoming 2022 Uttar Pradesh assembly polls.
Rajbhar, who forged a tie-up recently with the Samajwadi Party for the UP assembly polls, had met Ansari in Banda jail, prompting the ruling BJP to accuse him of practising the "politics of appeasement".
"I have met Mukhtar in Banda jail two days ago. During the meeting, his son Abbas Ansari was also present. The SP and the SBSP alliance will support him in the assembly polls," Rajbhar told PTI.
"It depends on Mukhtar whether he contests in alliance with the SP and the SBSP or as an independent candidate," he added.
When asked whether Samajwadi Party president Akhilesh Yadav will be ready to support him, Rajbhar said, "If he has to form a government, he should not have any problem in giving support. When he can forge an alliance with Mayawati, then there will be no problem in supporting Mukhtar."
Rajbhar had earlier termed Mukhtar as an "old friend". He used to go to meet him in Punjab jail, even as a minister in the Uttar Pradesh's BJP government.
"Mukhtar is an old friend whom I have known for the past 19 years," Rajbhar had said.
In a statement on Rajbhar's meeting with Ansari, Uttar Pradesh government spokesperson and Cabinet minister Siddharth Nath Singh on Wednesday said, "It was not just a meeting between Rajbhar and mafia Mukhtar Ansari but an evidence of the politics of appeasement that the BJP often talks about."
The SBSP had held a rally in Mau on October 27 with SP president Yadav too participating in it and announcing a poll alliance with Rajbhar's party, which is said to have a considerable influence over his community voters in eastern Uttar Pradesh.
The SBSP, which had contested the 2017 assembly elections in alliance with the BJP, has four MLAs at present. Rajbhar was also made a Cabinet minister in the Adityanath government but due to differences with the chief minister, he quit the government.
In September this year, BSP supremo Mayawati had said her party will make efforts to not field 'bahubali' (strongmen) or mafia candidates in the next year's Uttar Pradesh polls and announced that jailed gangster-turned-politician Mukhtar Ansari will not be given a party ticket from Mau again.