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No place for Muslims in Mayawati's scheme of things

UP chief minister Mayawati seems unfazed by the threat BJP rebels pose to her government. Rather, she is enjoying the situation. Whenever BJP fire-fighters manage some sort of peace she aggravates things by her strong-arm tactics. The arrest of two legislators, Raja Bhayya and Dhananjay Singh, is an example of this policy.

Though the track record of both these leaders is far from good, their arrest under Gangster Act on the filmsy ground of threatening a fellow legislator who first opposed the government, then changed track and became a loyalist is nothing but a case of political vendetta. Mulayam Singh Yadav is her main target, and it was with the sole intention to settle scores with him that she joined hands with the BJP. However, she remains conscious of her Muslim support base. During her first innings as chief minister she not only gave maximum representation to Muslims in her cabinet but took many important decisions to benefit them. One of these was scholarship to Muslim students from first to intermediate standards, so much so that even students of recognised madrasahs were brought under its purview. 

She established a separate ministry to look after minority welfare and appointed five thousand Urdu teachers. But gradually her bonhomie with BJP unmasked her real face. This time round she is behaving as if she is a member of Sangh Parivar.

She is leaving no doubt in the Muslim mind that she takes their support for granted and Muslim members of assembly belonging to her party are nothing more than stooges and spineless persons who have no sense of self respect and can be treated as shabbily as possible. 

Member of assembly Mukhtar Ansari broke all record of political chicanery and announced his support to Mayawati government during her worst crisis in spite of the fact that he was unceremoniously thrown out of BSP by Mayawati. The survival of her government depends solely on the support of 15 (now 16) Muslim MLAs. However, she has not accommodated them in her council of ministers. Those who have been accommodated have been allotted insignificant departments. 

Interestingly, Naseemuddin Siddiqui is enjoying not only her unshakeable confidence but prize portfolio also. Siddiqui is a member of the Upper House and thus plays no role in her government’s survival. Other Muslim members of her party numbering 14, are being treated like bonded labourers even though their support is very crucial for keeping her in power. Mayawati does not consider any of her Muslim MLAs worthy of active participation in cabinet meetings. 

It was expected that Mayawati would reward all Muslim MLAs of her party with ministerial berths as they are supporting her in testing times and have become almost untouchable in their community for supporting a government which is not only hobnobbing with the BJP but is also blatantly supporting and eulogising the culprits of Babri Masjid demolition. This is the first non-BJP council of ministers in which only two Muslims have got cabinet positions. Siddiqui being from the Upper House, the other cabinet minister, Kaukab Hameed, is from the Lok Dal. 

Four Muslims have been given minister of state rank, but their departments are ridiculously insignificant. Anis Ahmad Khan is minister of state for agricultural education, Abdul Mannan for Auqaf, Haji Yaqoob for minority welfare and Haj. Earlier it was under one ministry, but Mayawati bifurcated it to fool her two Muslim MLAs. Dr Sheema Rizvi, minister of electronics is from Bharatiya Janata Party quota. Thus there are two cabinet rank ministers and five ministers of state but none of them except, to some extent, Naseemuddin Sidiqui is in a position to play any decisive role in policy making. Others are nothing but rubber stamps.

Not only in allocating ministerial berths, Mayawati this time is being blatantly anti-Muslim in other respects also, perhaps to keep the BJP in good humour. She has given a free field to Hindu extremists to spit venom against Muslims, so much so that right under her nose in the state capital Muslims are threatened with ethnic cleansing if they objected to construction of Ram temple. Yogi Aditya Nath, member of parliament from Gorakhpur, is hell bent upon repeating Gujarat in eastern UP, but no action is taken against him. Rather, officers daring to take any action are humiliated and transferred. One can realise the gravity of the situation by the fact that a deputy inspector general of police was transferred for taking action against an SHO (station house officer) because the SHO was the blue-eyed boy of Yogi.

It is for the first time that the chief minister holding the finance portfolio has to offer nothing to minority welfare department in her budget speech. When the department budget was presented, it was revealed that the budget of this department had been slashed by about Rs 3 crore per year whereas the budgetary allocation of Dalit (SC/ST)welfare department was increased by about Rs 50 crore. Earlier, the budgetary allocation of minority welfare department was Rs 1,678, 959,000 which has now been brought down to Rs 1,648,513,000, which covers the directorate of minority welfare, Arabic and Persian Madrasah Board, Minorities Finance and Development Corporation, Waqf survey commissioner, UP Haj Committee, Shia and Sunni Waqf boards, Minorities Commission, Waqf Development Corporation, Urdu Academy and Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Committee. 

Unfortunately, these departments are known for rampant corruption, exploitation and harassment of beneficiaries, inefficiency, carelessness and nepotism. Some of them like Fakhruddin Ali Ahmad Committee have been rendered ineffective due to previous BJP government's hostile attitude, which Mayawati has continued. 

The position of Shia and Sunni Waqf boards is even worse. Employees of these boards have not got their salary for last several months. They are facing starvation. One of the employees committed suicide, but Mayawati, who is spending crores of rupees on Ambedkar Park and Parivartan Chowk has not bothered to release funds for these boards so that the employees could get their salaries. UP State Employees Joint Council, an umbrella organisation of state employees, has made many representations to the chief minister in this connection, but to no avail.

Muslim officers too have been ignored. Only three Muslim IAS officers have been appointed district magistrates and three Muslim IPS officers have been made district police chiefs. Senior IAS officer Anis Ansari, having the rank of principal secretary, has been given the insignificant department of home guards and pension, while seniormost IPS officer SM Naseem has been overlooked and DN Shukla has been made director general of police.

This time round Mayawati has amended her own previous guidelines. In her first innings, she had issued instructions that 8.5 per cent station heads of police should be from minority community. She has now slashed it to just 5 per cent. 

Perhaps Mayawati has realised that she has burnt all her boats and remaining on board BJP's ship has become her compulsion. She is doing her best to keep the BJP in good humour to continue in power because she is well aware that Muslims are not amused at her treacherous act of hobnobbing with the Sangh Parivar .

¯ Obaid Nasir in Lucknow 

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