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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

In Uttar Pradesh, tussle for Muslim votes
By Masood Hasan

Lucknow: Tug-of-war is evident among the different political parties in Uttar Pradesh to win over the hearts of the 19 per cent Muslim voters spread over 27 districts of the state. The political parties Congress, Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) have set their eyes on the Muslim votebank and are luring them to get their favour in the Lok Sabha elections by announcing a number of welfare measures at their public meetings for their upliftment. Even the Bharatiya Janata Party does not lag behind the other political parties to woo the members of the minority community and has also opened a minority cell headed by Ghairul Hasan in the state. The leaders of the BJP also claim that only the BJP can provide for and protect their interests in Uttar Pradesh. Sheema Rizvi was elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council from the BJP quota and was also a minister when Mayawati was heading the state Government.

The Election Commission has prepared electoral lists for the first time in Urdu for the Urdu speaking people to facilitate polling in those districts and constitiencies of Uttar Pradesh where the Urdu knowing people exceed 20 per cent. According to the Election Commission, the Muslim population accounted for 19 per cent as a whole in the state spread over 27 districts of the state.

The Election Commission has prepared electoral lists for the first time in Urdu for the Urdu speaking people to facilitate polling in those districts and constitiencies of Uttar Pradesh where the Urdu knowing people exceed 20 per cent. According to the Election Commission, the Muslim population accounted for 19 per cent as a whole in the state spread over 27 districts of the state.

As many as 130 Assembly and 34 Lok Sabha constituencies have been selected where Muslims are in a position to decide the fate of the candidates in the elections. Twenty-four out of 34 Lok Sabha constituencies in UP are dominated by the Muslims where they are in a decisive position. There are only ten Lok Sabha constituencies where they are not in a considerable presence. 

Only eight Muslims out of 80 were elected to the Lok Sabha in the last elections from Uttar Praesh. The partywise break-up: Rashid Alvi, Daud Ahamad and Mansoor Ali Khan (BSP), Begum Noor Bano and Saeeduz Zaman (Congress), Amir Alam (RLD) and Saleem Iqbal Sherwani and Rizwan Zaheer Khan (Samajwadi Party). Annoyed over the style of functioning of the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav, Rizwan Zaheer Khan who was elected to the Lok Sabha from the Samajwadi Party ticket has now joined the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to contest the Lok Sabha election. As many as 44 Muslims out 403 MLAs were elected to the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Assembly from the different political parties in the last Assembly elections.

But the fact is that a sharp division of votes between different political parties of the Muslims has minimised the number of the Muslim representatives to the Assembly and the Lok Sabha. If the Muslim leadership makes sincere and concerted efforts to stop the division of votes among them then their number in the Assembly and the Lok Sabha might increase if the percentage of the population in Assembly and Lok Sabha constituencies is any indication. 

The national president of the Samajwadi Party and the Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Mulayam Singh has left no stone unturned to lure the members of the minority community. He has made efforts since he was installed in government in Uttar Pradesh in alliance with the Rashrtriya Lok Dal (RLD) headed by Ajit Singh and the Congress. The Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav had inducted 13 ministers in his council of ministers belonging to the minority community. Four Muslim MLAs were made Cabinet ministers and nine were given the status of ministers of state. Mohd Azam Khan, known as a firebrand leader, is a cabinet minister in the Uttar Pradesh Government headed by Mulayam Singh Yadav who has been given Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development Ministries. The RLD leader Kokab Hameed is also a cabinet minister who belongs to the RLD.  

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