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Sectarian differences will strengthen communalists 
By Zafar Agha

As the elections in Uttar Pradesh are approaching tension is increasing in the state. Latest example of such tension is Shia-Sunni riots in Mubarakpur Azamgarh, where 25 people died in riots following a bomb explosion. The question is as to why these riots took place. There have been no incidents of Shia-Sunni riots throughout India, not to talk of UP. Long ago such riots did take place in Lucknow occasionally but it happens no longer now. We had only heard of Hindu-Muslim riots in Azamgarh so far, but no Shia-Sunni riots. Then why this riot now?

In the first instance, experience shows that generally riots do not take place; rather they are planned. For example, during the eighties and nineties the purpose of several communal riots that took place throughout the country was to spread the feeling of hatred and animosity against Muslims among the Hindus, political advantage of which was reaped by the BJP. The BJP that was still not a force to reckon rapidly rose after these riots to become the ruling party of the country. There is no denying the fact that the incident of Babri Masjid demolition and communal riots during the last two decades transformed the destiny of the BJP. The conclusion of this whole argument is to say that riots have played an important role in Indian politics and that these are generally planned for political benefits.

Now the question arises as to what can be the motive behind these riots and which party is going to gain from Shia-Sunni differences. Obviously it can be BJP. In spite of Mr Bangaro Laxman conciliatory attitude towards Muslims, they are still not prepared to cast their votes in favour of the BJP. Since assembly elections are shortly going to take place in UP and as the BJP's position here is not very satisfactory, it will try its level best to prevent majority of 20 percent Muslim votes from going en-block to one party. This may be possible by creating dissension's between these two sects through such riots in place like Azamgarh where Muslims are in quite large number. By dividing their votes in such a way, BJP candidates will be in a better position to win.

BJP's position is not very satisfactory in UP because ever since AB Vajpayee has become Prime Minister, upper caste dominance has increased in UP administration and Dalits and other backward classes are being marginalized and feeling disenchanted with it. Kalyan Singh, who represented backward classes was first to go. Now Raj Nath Singh, a Thakur, has been made the chief minister. Such things have made Dalits and other backward classes more inclined towards Mulayem Singh Yadav and his party.

Uttar Pradesh being the most populous state in the country which sends 84 MPs to the Lok Sabha, every party wants to have a hold on this state as which ever party has a hold on this state it is most likely to influence the political fortune of the whole country. If BJP's hold weakens on this state, its influence on national politics will also weaken. Under such circumstance the BJP may adopt any strategy, fair and foul, which may be advantageous to it.Hence the first and foremost thing for Muslims to avoid being a victim of divide and rule policy of the BJP is to consolidate their unity. Shia-Sunni riots of Azamgarh are indeed a matter of shame for every Muslim. They must be extremely careful against being trapped in such divisive acts. If Muslims are unable to understand as to why they are being made to fight amongst themselves, anti-Muslim organizations like RSS will succeed in their unholy intentions. Hence all Muslims organizations, not only in UP but throughout the country should make all efforts to bring about unity amongst Muslims so that their votes, instead of being divided, may be cast as much as possible to one party against the BJP.

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