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Learning the art of Kautaliya
By Mohammad Ashfaque, Calcutta

Syed Ubaidur Rahman in his feature article "Learning Kautaliya's trade:UP municipal elections and Muslims" in Milli Gazette ( 15 – 31 December issue) has explained how division of Muslim votes helped BJP candidates in Uttar Pradesh. He has referred to some recent instances where Muslim candidates lost to BJP candidates due to split in Muslim votes. This is however not a new phenomenon. Apart from split in Muslim votes, division of secular votes in Uttar Pradesh has created political imbalance in the state. This is going on since the past few elections. There has been some recent improvement but still a lot is required to be done.

Uttar Pradesh accounts for 16 % of the total population of India. According to 1991 Census 2,41,09, 684 Muslims of Uttar Pradesh account for 17 % of the population of Uttar Pradesh and 24 % of the total Muslims in India. Largest number of MPs (85) elected to Lok Sabha are from Uttar Pradesh. Uttar Pradesh plays an important role in formation of the government at the Centre. Caste and community are important political factors in Uttar Pradesh politics. Muslims of UP are in a position to influence the results of elections in the state. Division of Muslim votes diminishes the political importance of their votes and helps divisive forces who are conspiring to weaken the secular fabric of our nation.

The results of the 1998 Lok Sabha Elections reveal how BJP took advantage of the division among votes to gain undeserving success in the elections.

Due to division of Muslim votes the Congress candidate Begum Nur Banu alias Mehtab Zamani Begum had lost in 1998 Lok Sabha Elections by only 4,936 (00.61 %) votes to Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi of BJP in Rampur Lok Sabha Constituency where the majority of voters are Muslims. Muslim votes were divided among different candidates as a result of which Naqvi won despite having secured only 32.75 % votes. 

In the 1998 Lok Sabha election BJP had succeeded in winning 57 (67 %) of the 85 Lok Sabha Seats from Uttar Pradesh. Out of 17 seats reserved for the Scheduled Castes BJP had won 10 seats.

Only in 6 seats {Tehri Garhwal (51.82 %): Garhwal (55.44 %): Almora (52.39 %):Lucknow (57.82 %): Machhlishahr (59.58 %): and Khurja-SC (56.77 %)} the BJP had got more than 50 % Votes.

In 5 seats { Bareilly (46.24 %): Mathura (49.07 %): Kanpur (49.39 %): Hathras-SC (49.31 %): and Aligarh (47.57 %) } BJP won by securing 45 to 50 % votes.

In 14 Lok Sabha Constituencies {Pratapgarh (40.43 %): Sultanpur (40.62 %): Domariaganj (40.51 %): Gorakhpur (42.61 %):Varanasi (42.98 %):Mirzapur (40.68 %):Bilhaur 41.35 %): Etah (44.28 %): Firozabad (SC) (44.69 %):Bulandshahar 41.63 %): Hapur (44.65 %): Meerut (43.55 %): and Hardwar –SC (44.74 %) BJP won after getting between 40 to 45 % Votes. 

In 19 seats { Naini Tal (38.52 %): Amroha (37.45 %):Aonla ( 38.98 %): Raibareli ( 36.15 %): Amethi ( 35.08 %): Barabanki-SC (39.77 %): Basti-SC (39.80 %): Bansgaon –SC- 36.84 %: Maharajganj –35.85 %: Padrauna (38.31 %): Allahabad (39.32 %): Fetehpur ( 39.57 %): Jhansi (35.57 %): Jalaun-SC (38.43 %): Ghatampur SC-(36.92 %): Etawah (39.34 %): Agra (36.94 %): Baghpat (36.95 %): and Muzaffarnagar (35.44 %)} BJP candidates won the election despite securing only 35 to 40 % Votes.

In 13 Lok Sabha seats { Rampur (32.75 %): Shahajahanpur (33.56 %): Shahabad (33.33 %): Sitapur ( 33.49 %): Unnao (33.17 %): Khalilabad ( 30.86 %): Saidpur –SC (33.27 %): Chandauli (32.32 %): Robertsganj (SC) (34.19 %) Banda (33.02 %): Hamirpur (34.87 %): Farrukhabad (31.74 %):and Saharanpur (33.19 %), BJP candidates were declared elected despite securing only 30 to 35 % votes in the elections.

In 22 Seats (Nainital, Rampur, Aonla, Shahajahanpur, Shahabad, Sitapur, Unao, Amethi, Khalilabad, Gorakhpur, Maharajganj , Saidpur (SC), Chandauli, Banda, Hamirpur, Etawah, Farrukhabad, Etah, Muzaffarnagar, Bareilly, Barabanki (SC) and Robertsganj (SC) the margin of victory of BJP candidates was less than 5 %.

Though Muslims constitute 17 % of the total population of Uttar Pradesh only 6 (7%) Muslims were elected to Lok Sabha from this State. Among the candidates who lost by less than 15 % votes six were Muslims.

The above analysis of the results of 1998 Lok Sabha elections in Uttar Pradesh show how BJP took advantage of division in anti-BJP votes and won a large number of seats in Uttar Pradesh. The number of seats won by them was very much disproportionate to their own strength in the state.

Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party are to a very large extent to be blamed for the above debacle in Uttar Pradesh. They failed to read the clear writings on the wall and did not take steps to consolidate anti BJP votes . They indulged in cut throat competitions and virtually gifted a large number of Lok Sabha seats on a platter to communal and fascist parties. Left to themselves these parties will not hesitate to commit such blunders even in future. It is upto the voters to pressurize these Parties and make them realize that if they are serious in fighting forces of communalism and fascism they should come to some sort of understanding among themselves to prevent split of anti BJP votes. They should not allow pride or prejudice or personal dislikes to stand in the way. The situation calls for such sacrifice from them

In the forthcoming elections of Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly leaders of Muslim community should take the initiative and discuss with leaders of other castes and communities and select such winnable candidates, who are committed to secularism, who may defeat the candidates of communal and fascist parties and their allies. Secular temper and spirit in the country would be strengthened if communal forces are defeated in Uttar Pradesh.

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