Mulayam gets fed up with 'friend'

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  • Published 3.12.05

Lucknow, Dec. 3: Mulayam Singh Yadav appears all set to dump “friend in need” Mukhtar Ansari, who has been named prime accused in the murder of don-turned-BJP MLA Krishnanand Rai.

In 2003, Ansari had mobilised Independent MLAs to help Mulayam prove his majority in the Assembly and has been seen as close to the chief minister since.

But under pressure after the Mau riots ? in which Ansari’s hand was suspected ? and the murder of the BJP MLA, the chief minister who no longer needs Ansari’s support in the House appears ready to let the law take its course.

The Special Task Force probing Rai’s murder has said it suspects that Ansari had hired gangster Munna Bajrangi to kill the BJP MLA. Bajrangi’s house was raided today.

The move to dump Ansari appears to have been triggered by BJP chief L.K. Advani’s decision to join a protest in Varanasi against Rai’s murder. He will join a padayatra from Varanasi to Ghazipur on Tuesday and meet Rai’s family.

The BJP, with whom Mulayam’s Samajwadi Party was said to have an unwritten pact when it displaced the Mayavati government in 2003, is spoiling for a showdown with the government.

“The party MLAs and MLCs have been instructed to reach Varanasi on December 6 to join the peace march to be led by BJP president L.K. Advani,” former chief minister Kalyan Singh said.

Mulayam, who still maintains good personal relations with state BJP leaders, had said after Rai’s murder: “I have nothing to hide nor am I trying to shield anyone. The guilty will be brought to book.”

Ansari is already in jail, having surrendered in an old case soon after his name was linked to the Mau riots in October and the government was accused of shielding him.

STF senior superintendent Akhil Kumar, who has taken over as the Ghazipur police chief, told reporters that “before the murder, Bajrangi and his accomplice Firdaus used to visit Mohammadabad and were in regular touch with controversial Independent MLA from Mau, Mukhtar Ansari”. Both Bajrangi and Firdaus carry a reward of Rs 1 lakh on their heads.

Fearing that he might have sneaked into neighbouring Bihar, the police have alerted the Nitish Kumar government.

Prem Prakash Singh alias Munna Bajrangi, in his mid-forties, has been a terror in the region for about a decade now. He arrived on the state’s crime scene in 1996 when he allegedly gunned down BJP leader Ram Chander Singh and his bodyguard in Jaunpur. Bajrangi was caught by the STF the same year but managed to use his political contacts to wriggle out.

Later, he came into contact with Ansari and took on the Brijesh Singh gang, of which Rai was said to be a frontman.

Bajrangi’s signature style is said to be killing his target in a moving car, the same way that the don-turned-BJP MLA was murdered.

The police fear he might have escaped to Nepal. “We have approached Interpol to trace the killers of the BJP MLA,” said Aloke Sinha, principal secretary, home.