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Muslims not favouring one party in UP polls
April 20, 2007 16:47 IST
The Muslim community, which constitutes a substantial 17 percent of the electorate in Uttar Pradesh, appears to be a confused lot this time around as the Assembly election process gains momentum, unlike the previous polls when it was seen to be voting en bloc in favour of one particular party.
With three phases completed in the staggered seven phase voting, it's anybody's guess which way the Muslims have voted.
As statistics suggest, Muslims have influence on about 120 of the total of 403 Assembly seats in the state. These include about sixty seats in the western parts of Uttar Pradesh.
Bahraich, Ghazipur, Varanasi, Bareilly, Rampur, Moradabad, Bijnore, Amroha, Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Saharanpur, Kanpur and Aligarh are the districts where Muslims constitute 30-50 percent of the total population.
Wooing of Muslims by most political parties continued on a high pitch but 'a pregnant silence' on the community's part has left all guessing.
This is also cause of much discomfort for the ruling Samajwadi Party, which has always enjoyed Muslim support and the Congress, which is attempting to win back the community's support after losing their loyality following the demolition of the Babri Masjid in December, 1992.
The All India Milli Council, the political arm of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, has admitted that this time, the electoral situation is different.
According to Council's president Maulana Gulzar Qazmi, the organisation apprehends there might be a steep fall in the number of elected Muslim candidates in the ongoing Assembly polls.
He said the council did not release the list of candidates for Muslims to vote for against the BJP candidates in order to avoid polarisation of Hindu votes, but it did issue an appeal to forge unity of secular parties against communal forces.
The Maulana concedes that the situation is complex in this election.
SP and Congress had mentioned Muslims prominently in their respective manifestos. The Congress, in fact, had vowed to implement the Sachar Committee recommendations through a 15-point programme for minority development programme initiated by its president Sonia Gandhi.
To maintain the minority status of the Aligarh Muslim University and to establish Urdu as the second official language in Uttar Pradesh are some of the other promises the Congress has made in its manifesto.
The SP, which has been the first choice among the Muslims ever since the Babri demolition in December, 1992, in its manifesto had dealt at length with the welfare measures it had taken in favour of minorities during the last three and a half years of its regime.
The Mulayam-led party, however, has assured increased Muslim participation in government jobs and to approach the Supreme Court to increase minority quota in recruitment.
Mulayam is rather less vocal on minority issues -- perhaps because he is confident of getting their support this time also, as in the past.
The Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj Party, which has not released any manifesto, issued an appeal to Muslims to excercise their discretion in the best manner. The BSP has fielded 61 Muslim candidates.
Former prime minister VP Singh-led Jan Morcha is also wooing Muslims, posing itself as the 'natural friend' of the minority community while Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal has not lagged behind in an attempt to garner their votes, mainly during the second phase polling on April 13 last.
Bharatiya Janata Party, though enjoying the fractured support of Muslims among its political opponents, is striving hard to polarise Hindu votes but at the same time, is making no effort to intimidate minorities-possibily to prevent Muslim polarisation in the favour of any particular party.
Four of the seven Uttar Pradesh assembly poll phases are still away and a discreet minority stance is likely to give surprising results. All the parties are keeping their fingers crossed for this eventualily.
"This is an extra ordinary situation in the state's polity as far as the apparent attitude of Muslim voters suggests and it might upset the electoral calculations of many parties and individual candidates," says a political observer of the state