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

UP sends 11 Muslims to Parliament
By Masood Hasan

Lucknow: UP Muslims have given a befitting reply to the BJP candidates in the Lok Sabha elections. Even some big "Muslim" faces like Arif Mohammad Khan and Shah Alam failed to win from Kaiserganj and Azamgarh respectively. The Himayat Committee led by Khwaja Iftikhar and Atal Fan Club led by poet Bashir Badr failed to woo members of the minority community. The fight between the secular parties for the Muslim vote has yielded good results in the elections in UP. As against eight Muslims from Samajwadi Party, BSP and the Congress elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999 elections in the state, UP's Muslim representation in the Lok Sabha has increased from eight to 11 giving a boost to the Samajwadi Party and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). 

The Congress Party received a major setback in these elections as not even a single Muslim contesting the elections from the party was elected to the Lok Sabha. The picture is more serious for the party as two Muslims belonging to the Congress (Noor Bano and Saiduzzaman) were elected to the Lok Sabha in 1999 elections but this time they failed to register a comeback. 

Out of the 11 Muslim MPs Shafiqur Rahman Burq (Moradabad), Salim Shervani (Budaun), Mrs Rubab Sayeeda (Bahraich), Afzal Ansari (Ghazipur), Ateeq Ahamad (Phoolpur), Munawwar Hasan (Muzaffarnagar) and Rashid Masood (Saharanpur) belong to the Samajwadi Party. The husband of Mrs Rubab Sayeeda, Waqar Shah, is the deputy speaker of the Uttar Pradesh Legislative Council who is considered close to Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. 

The BSP had fielded 17 Muslim candidates in the Lok Sabha elections out of whom only four made it to Parliament. They are Iliyas Azmi (Shahabad), Mohammad Tahir (Sultanpur), Mohammad Muqim (Dumariyaganj) and Mohammad Shahid (Meerut). Mohammad Tahir of BSP won the prestigious seat of Sultanpur snatching it from the Congress. Capt Satish Sharma had been fielded at Sultanpur by the Congress.

Muslim organisations like the All-India Milli Council, All India Muslim Majlis-e Mushawarat and Jamaat-e Islami, had made an impassioned appeal to the Muslims to vote and support candidates belonging to secular parties. These organisations had released a list of candidates appealing to Muslims to vote and support them to defeat the communal candidates. These appeals made a considerable impact on Muslim voters.

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