Minority tilt to Mulayam in Uttar Pradesh

Minority tilt to Mulayam in Uttar Pradesh

By: || Updated: 20 Feb 2012 10:47 PM


Azamgarh: The
BJP “bhooth” (demon) that spooked the Muslim psyche in Uttar Pradesh
ever since the Babri demolition seems to have been finally laid to rest in
these elections.

Muslims no longer propose to vote strategically
to defeat the BJP, as they have done in every election since 1992. Joining
the swelling anti-Mayawati constituency, they are rooting for candidates
best placed to defeat the BSP — even if that means voting for the BJP in
some seats.

A sound Muslim BSP candidate can still get by, on the
strength of personal image and conduct. The same holds true for the
Congress. The Peace Party, purportedly espousing the interests of the
backward caste and Dalit Muslims, is attracting votes in pockets of east
Uttar Pradesh. But the Samajwadi Party is back as favourite.

“We
remember the Mulayam Singh Yadav regime with nostalgia,” said Umer
Nadvi, a senior research fellow in Azamgarh’s Darul Musannefin Shibli
Academy. “The power situation was not too bad. At least we didn’t need
to install inverters. Mulayam was the first leader since Independence to
link Urdu with employment, he appointed 1,500 Urdu teachers and
translators. Mayawati has not created a single job. Immortalise yourself
through solid work so that you can also insulate yourself against
corruption. Then even if you make money, people won’t mind.”

In
Varanasi, some 70km away, the bunkars (weavers) of the Benarasi silk saris
recalled that Mulayam had ended electricity pilferage — “forced” by
the rate of Rs 400 a day to operate power looms — by installing meters
and then standardising the rate of Rs 65 a month for a maximum of four
looms.

But more than nostalgia for an earlier regime, what
weighed in with Muslims was that in an Assembly election it makes “more
sense” to vote for a regional party. “We are clear that come 2014, we
will root for the Congress because it’s the best national choice,”
said Varanasi weaver Mohammad Shoaib. The community also has some grouses
against the Congress. Maulana Khalid Rasheed, the Naib Imam of Lucknow’s
Idghah mosque, complained that the Centre had not amended the Right to
Education Act to exempt “madarsas” and minority institutions.

A
couple of weeks ago, the Muslim Personal Law Board met in Farukkhabad from
where Salman Khurshid’s wife Louise is the candidate. Without taking
names, the gathering ticked off the UPA for doing “nothing” on the
education law and its plan to include all charitable trusts in the Direct
Taxes Code bill, a member said.

The Centre’s alleged failure to
set up a judicial probe into the Batla House “encounter” remains a
sore point, especially in Azamgarh from where several youths were picked
up for questioning. “The least the Centre could have done was to
institute a CBI inquiry. To say that it would demoralise the police is
rubbish,” argued Maulana Rashid.

Fakhrul Islam, a retired
professor from Azamgarh’s Shibli Academy, said when several youths
demanded an explanation from Rahul Gandhi, who was here recently, “all
he said was ‘learn to move on’.” “Try giving this line to the
families of the boys who are still in custody and you know why the
Congress is not quite the favourite of Muslims out here,” Islam said.

Lucknow-based
lawyer and minority rights activist Zafaryab Jilani said: “The
Congress’s problem is that it carries a seventies’ mindset. It thinks
it can befool Muslims with sops. I told Digvijayaji (Digvijaya Singh),
‘you are a good man but you don’t live in 2012’. Just abusing the
RSS and BJP doesn’t persuade our voters any longer. Even if (Narendra)
Modi campaigns here, we will be indifferent.”




-The Telegraph, Calcutta




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