By Dr SK Pandey from Lucknow
The communal appeasement policy of SP, BSP and Congress, added with the tactical voting pattern of the Muslim community has strengthened their clout in UP politics, giving an upswing to their number, which swells to 69 in 2012 elections from 56 in 2007 elections and from 23 in 1993 elections. And this seems to be alarming trend to all those who have always been expressing their concern for the political favour gained by Islamic fundamentalism from various corners. This can prove a setback to all those who have always earnestly wanted to combat the terrorism let loose by the anti-national elements, bent upon disrupting our peace and tranquility, under the protection of pseudo-secular and communal elements.
This trend seems to be dangerous in so far as we have already witnessed a lot of hue and cry made by the likes of ‘Digvijays’ and ‘Mulayams’ when the terrorists are shot in various encounters like the one at Batla House, Delhi and when the death sentence is pronounced to the likes of Afzal Guru. What seems to be more alarming is the birth of new Muslim political parties like the one under the leadership of Dr. Ayub, who has spent billions of rupees in the last few months before and during Assembly elections. Nobody cares about his sources of income in a country like India. He has also bagged four seats, including his own, in his first ever venture.
Voters in Uttar Pradesh have elected a record 69 Muslim legislators to the 403-member State Assembly in the just-concluded elections. Three of them are women. This is seven more than the number of Muslims elected in the 2007, when the previous high of 56 was recorded. The lowest number of Muslim members in the Assembly was 25 in 1993, at the peak of the Ramjanmabhoomi movement. Uttar Pradesh has a strong Muslim presence in the entire State. Some of the constituencies have over 80 per cent Muslim population.
The number of Muslim MLAs has increased to 69 while it was 56 in the last Assembly election (2007). The highest number of Muslim MLAs has come from SP (43) followed by BSP (16), Congress (4), Peace party (4), Quami Ekta Dal (2), Ittehad-E-Millat Council (1) and Indpendents (3). The Muslim representation in the 403-seat Assembly is now 17.12 per cent, which is now close to Muslim population share (18.50 per cent) in the total population of the State.
The Muslim winner with highest margin of votes (63,269) is Mohammad Azam Khan of Samajwadi Party. The Muslim winner with lowest margin of votes (just 18) was Ataur Rehman of Samajwadi Party on Baheri seat.
However, in some districts where Muslims have notable share in population, no Muslim candidate has got elected in this 2012 Assembly polls. For example, the population of Muslims in Saharanpur is around 40 per cent but not a single Muslim candidate has got elected from the district while in some other districts like Azamgarh, Muslims secured more seats (4) than their percentage share in population (15.07 per cent). There are 10 Assembly seats in Azamgarh. Moradabad is at top with 6 Muslim MLAs out of 9 seats in the district.
Samajwadi Party (SP) has emerged as the single largest party by bagging 224 seats and with clear majority to form the government in the State by defeating its main rival Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), which got only 80 seats. There is no doubt about the fact that Muslims have played a big role in the thumping victory of Mulayam Singh’s party that had once again played Muslim-Yadav card to the fullest. Mayawati’s social engineering formula failed this year while Mulayam’s Muslim/Yadav card succeeded. The Shahi Imam Bukhari’s fatwa and the efforts of the hardliner Azam Khan succeeded in polarizing Muslims in favour of Mulayam Singh Yadav.
It is clear that the Muslims of the State have voted overwhelmingly for the Samajwadi Party. The results in the 122 constituencies in the State in which Muslims play a crucial to decisive role show that half (61) went to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party. The Muslim population in these 122 seats ranges from 20 per cent to 50 per cent. The Congress, which tried to woo the Muslims with the promise of a quota, and its alliance partner Rashtriya Lok Dal had to remain content with 15 of these 122 seats, almost all of them in western UP. It was generally believed that Congress and RLD would sweep the area as Jats and Muslims would be too formidable a combination to defeat. In fact, this aggressive campaign to woo Muslims led to a polarisation of Hindu votes behind the BJP, which helped the party to win 16 of the 122 seats under consideration.
The BSP bagged 25 of these Muslim-dominated constituencies. Eleven of these 25 MLAs are Muslims. Like the SP, the BSP had fielded 84 Muslim candidates. The Congress gave tickets to 60 Muslims. Muslims, who constitute about 17 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s population, were traditionally seen, till the ’80s, as a Congress vote-bank. Since the elections in 1989, however, the community is considered to have shifted its loyalties to Mulayam and the SP. Muslims felt that the Congress had alienated them by allowing shilanayas of the Babri Masjid/Rama temple complex, whereas Mulayam has remained careful about his public image. This time round played the Muslim card by announcing 4.5 per cent quota, but failed because despite much hue and cry it did not include the same in the election manifesto, whereas the Samajwadi Party not only succeeded in wooing them by increasing the percentage to their population share but also by including it in the party manifesto. Muslims have about 18 per cent population in the State.
The only setback had been in the recent past when Mohammand Azam Khan was expelled for alleged anti-party activities leaving the SP with virtually no prominent Muslim leader. In a damage control exercise, the party appointed Waqar Ahmed Shah, a four-time MLA, as the deputy leader of the SP in the State Assembly in place of Khan to assuage the sentiments of minorities who are getting closer to Congress as reflected in the outcome of the last Lok Sabha polls.
The Samajwadi Party which had won 35 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP in 2004 had to rest content with 23 seats this time, while Congress improved its tally from nine in 2004 to 21. To fill the vacuum, the party appointed Ahmed Hasan as the Leader of the Opposition in the Vidhan Parishad but he is not considered as a leader with mass support. Thus the party which was once considered to be the first choice among the minorities was taken by surprise in the Lok Sabha polls as all its 11 Muslims candidates lost. Finally, Azam had to be brought back to the party fold.