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In UP, all seek to have the Muslim vote pie

Arunav Sinha in Lucknow | October 26, 2008 15:39 IST

With Muslim voters playing a crucial role in almost one out of five constituencies in Uttar Pradesh [Images], political parties are going all out to woo the community in this politically significant state, which sends 80 parliamentarians to the Lok Sabha.

Samajwadi Party chief Malayam Singh Yadav visited the Islamic seminary Datul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema along with his close aide Amar Singh [Images] and met its Rector Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi, who also is the chairman of All India Muslim Personal Law Board. The former chief minister is understood to have discussed the alleged targeting of Muslims on terror issue, while the Bahujan Samaj Party organised a Muslim convention to reiterate its association with the community.

Not ready to be left out of the race, the Congress has sent feelers and is trying to fix a meeting between the Congress chief Sonia Gandhi [Images] and Nadvi, who originally hails from her parliamentary constituency Rae Bareli, highly placed sources in UP Congress Committee told PTI.

At a time, when Muslim leaders appeared divided on the Indo-US nuclear deal, BSP held a Muslim convention on October 13 to score brownie points over rivals.

Mayawati [Images] besides making a plethora of announcements for the welfare of the Muslim community, had also sent her close aide and BSP's general secretary Satish Chandra Mishra to meet Nadvi on the eve of the party's Muslim convention.

At the convention, the BSP supremo besides announcing her government's plan to set-up an Arabic-Persian and taking over 100 more madrassas on the state grant list, also spoke about the constitution of a special cell headed by Mishra to review the progress made by her government for minorities.

Out of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies, the population of Muslim voters is about 20 per cent in 17 of them, mostly in western Uttar Pradesh like Muzaffarnagar, Bahraich, Amroha and Moradabad.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, the community plays a decisive role in constituencies of Azamgarh, Gonda, Srawasti, Varanasi and Duamariaganj.

For Samajwadi Party, which supported the Indo-US nuclear deal despite the opposition by Muslim leaders, the resignation of senior leader Shahid Siddiqui [Images] just before the trust vote and his joining the BSP came as a jolt.

Reacting to Mayawati's endeavour to woo the Muslim electorate, Yadav termed the convention as a political gimmick.

The SP supremo, who never missed an opportunity to remind Muslims that BSP had in the past had shared power with the BJP, also questioned the its secular credentials, by asking Mayawati to clear her stand vis-a-vis the Bharatiya Janata Party.

Mulayam, whose party benefited from the anti-BJP votes of the Muslim community after the demolition of Babri Masjid, lost no time in visiting Maulana Rabe Hasan Nadvi, who has been not keeping well for quite sometime.

Yadav, however, described the visit as an apolitical one, saying that it was a personal visit and had no political purpose.

"I keep on visiting Maulana (Nadvi) and had met him several times earlier," Yadav had told reporters after his 30-minute stay.

It is understood that the SP leaders, who have been demanding a judicial enquiry into the Batala House encounter and opposing arrest of Muslim youths, discussed the matter with the Maulana to convince him that their party was equally concerned over the issue.




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