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Published in the 16-31 Aug 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Mulayam striving to keep votebank

By Masood Hasan

Lucknow: To keep intact his vote bank among the Muslim community after he received a blow in the Lok Sabha Sabha elections because of tactical voting by Muslims, the UP Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav has geared up the Muslim leaders of the party after hectic consultations with the firebrand leader and Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development Minister Mohammad Azam Khan to stop the Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) from poaching into his vote bank in the bye-elections to the 12 Assembly and two Lok Sabha seats, scheduled to be held by end of October. Congress leaders, on the other hand, are raking up issues confronting the minorities which have become a cause of concern for the Samajwadi Party leadership.

The president of the Samajwadi Party and UP chief minister is leaving no stones unturned to woo the minority community voters. The elections to the 12 Assembly seats were necessitated following resignations of the MLAs after being elected to the national legislature. Two seats of the Lok Sabha have also fallen vacant by resignation of the Mulayam Singh Yadav and the national president of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Mayawati from Mainpuri and Ambedkar Nagar respectively.

The Samajwadi Party president has set his eyes on all the seats of the Assembly and the Lok Sabha by luring the Muslims who constitute a considerable percentage in these constituencies. Mulayam Singh has announced a number of welfare schemes for uplift of the minorities. He has announced appointment of Urdu teachers and translators in government departments and even the term of the State Commission for Minorities has been extended to three years by the Mulayam Singh Government. The Chief Minister has nominated Sheikh Sulaiman, a former legislator, as the chairman of the State Commission for minorities. The term of the State Commission for Minorities was reduced from three to one year by Kalyan Singh’s BJP Government (which fell in the wake of the demolition of the Babri Mosque in December 1992) in order to remove the then chairman of the Commission appointed by the earlier Mayawati Government. The Uttar Pradesh Government has also constituted Arabic-Persian Board headed by Maulana Khalil Ashrafi of Rampur to coordinate between the madarsas and the State Government to resolve their problems. About sixty-four madarsas were given financial assistance by the Mulayam Singh Government. The Arbaic-Persian Board was constituted as the Parliamentary Affairs and Urban Development Minister Azam Khan took initiative in this regard because these were demands raised by Muslims since Mulayam Singh took over the reins of the Uttar Pradesh government. The Uttar Pradesh Government has also announced in the UP Legislative Council that the Government would extend the facilities of G.P.F and pension to the teachers of the madarsas who were being denied their rights of getting pension and G.P.F benefits until now.

The Chief Minister said that all efforts would be made to ensure the self-reliance of the members of the minority community in the state, and assured the two members of the National Commission for Minorities, Lt. Gen. (retd) A M Sethana and A R Sherwani, when they called on him at his Kalidas Marg residence. Mulayam Singh Yadav said that the process of providing financial assistance through Uttar Pradesh Minority Finance and Development Corporation would be accelerated so that they could set up their own businesses. He said that all possible efforts would be given to the youth involved in industries like chikan, zari, weaving, zardozi and carpet
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