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Political parties woo Muslims
By Masood Hasan, Lucknow

Even though there is no hope for the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections in October this year, major political parties including the BJP, have geared up to woo members of the minority community as they constitute about 18 percent of the state's population. The percentage of Muslims ranges from 16 to 42 percent in various constituencies and in several districts and Assembly segments, they play a decisive role during elections.
The Congress Party, Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party have taken up Muslim causes and have already launched campaigns for their upliftment. The Congress, which till the Babri Masjid demolition was considered to be the champion of Muslim causes, is still paying a price for the demolition. Muslims still feel that the Masjid was demolished due to the connivance of the Congress regime. the Congress has started luring Muslims by announcing various programmes and by building up pressure on the government to issue a fresh notification in the Babri Masjid demolition case. The Congress has even threatened to launch a movement if the welfare measures for their upliftment are not taken up. The Congress Legislature Party (CLP) leader Mr Prammod Tiwari has threatened to start a movement against the Government if the BJP-led government fails to take these demands into consideration. Mr Tiwari went to the extent of saying that Dalits and Muslims are targeted and there is concerted move to perpetrate atrocities on them. The CLP leader said that the party favoured enhanced representation to Dalits and Muslims, in government jobs.

The Samajwadi Party of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav has now made a dent in the vote bank of the Congress. The Samajwadi Party, which is well aware of the game-plan of the political parties, is making relentless efforts to maintain its hold on Muslims.

The BSP too is leaving no stones unturned to woo the minorities. The vice-president of the party, Mayawati, has announced several welfare measures for their cause and will give party tickets to Muslims in proportion to their population. She emphasized the need for Dalit-Muslim unity. She said that the BSP was the only party which can defeat the communal forces at the hustings.

The BJP, which is branded as an anti-Muslim party, is also trying to win over the hearts of the Muslims, at both government and party levels. It has opened a minority cell in the party office and has made a Muslim woman a minister. The chief minister, Mr Rajnath Singh, who organized a panchayat of Urdu teachers at his residence, announced several measures for their upliftment. Mr Singh listened to their problems with rapt attention and and assured them of an aid worth Rs one crore for the promotion of Urdu teaching.

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