Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Muslims saw through Cong poll promises - By Iftekhar Gilani - DNA, Daily English Newspaper, Mumbai

Muslims saw through Cong poll promises

Era of tokenism is over, minority community punished Cong for its double game, say community leaders

Iftikhar Gilani
l New Delhi

Muslim representation has shot up to the highest-ever figure of 66 in the Uttar Pradesh (UP) assembly, with the community believed to have gone all out in favour of the winner, Samajwadi Party (SP). As many as 41 Muslims have got elected on the SP ticket, followed by 15 from Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Just 4 Muslim candidates could make up on the Congress ticket, 3 from Peace Party, 2 from Qaumi Ekta Dal and one from Ittehade Millat Council.

As for the Congress, it’s not just in UP that Muslims rejected it, even in the Muslim majority seat of Malerkotla in Punjab they preferred to go with Akali Dal. In UP, the Congress’s magic mantra of ‘quota within quota’ clearly flopped, so much so that Union law minister Salman Khurshid’s wife Louise Khurshid trailed fifth from the Farrukhabad constituency. Salman Khurshid had risked the Election Commission wrath for enhancing this quota during aggressive campaigning.

While the outgoing assembly had 55 Muslim legislators — the highest since independence — the minority is no longer so in the newly-elected assembly, which has a record 66 legislators. Political analysts believe that Muslims overturned results in as many as 136 seats, with the main contenders — the SP and the BSP — fielding 85 Muslims each, while the Congress giving tickets to 59 Muslims. The BJP had fielded a lone Muslim candidate, Shakeel Alam from Sahaswan in Badaun district, who had to forfeit his deposit.

The 2012 results are being seen as en-masse endorsement of the SP and a rejection of Congress and small ‘Muslim’ parties by the Muslims in the state.

The Peace Party has won just four seats, while Rashtriya Ulema Council has drawn a blank. Shazil Islam Ansari, the lone winner from Ittehad Millat Council, was the wakf minister in the Mayawati ministry but denied a ticket by the BSP.

Secretary general of Welfare Party Dr SQR Ilyas told DNA that the Muslim vote played a crucial role in SP’s overwhelming victory. Explaining reasons for this shift, Dr Ilyas said the Muslim youth were being targeted in the Congress-ruled states even as Mayawati let loose a wave harassment. Also, Muslims have rejected the caste-based politics propagated by smaller Muslim political parties and instead exhibited unity by voting for SP en masse.

While professor and political analyst Dr Zahid Ali Khan of the Aligarh Muslim University said it was for the first time that the community overwhelmingly supported a single party, general secretary of All-India Milli Council Dr Manzoor Alam said the results were a warning for the Congress “The BSP neglected Muslims in a planned way in all spheres. Like other parties, it wanted to win over Muslims just on security issue,” said Alam

As for the reasons why Muslims rejected the Congress, Alam said it was mainly because the party continued targeting Muslim youth in terror charges.

“The Congress played a double game, it must appreciate that era of tokenism is over,” he added.


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