Monday, November 20, 2006

Muslim vote bank politics heats up in UP


In 1991 Muslims constituted 15 per cent of the population of UP. In 2001 their share had gone up to 18.5 per cent of the UP population. Thus, the Muslim votes are now more important than they ever have been at any point of time in the past. Simply because there are many more people listening to Imam Bukhari and other Islamic "leaders" like him and voting according to their "fatwas".

This is a continuing trend: Muslim percentage of Indian population is increasing, and Muslim vote bank politics is becoming more and more important. Muslim population has been increasing faster than that of any other community because most Muslims are uneducated, illiterate, polygamous, backward and don't do much other than make money through low-skilled menial labour or by committing crimes (stealing, robbery, gang activities like smuggling, drug distribution, etc), marry four wives, and create lots and lots of babies. People from other, more law-abiding, communities get married later in life because they need to acquire more difficult skills (being a bricklayer, mason, clerk, engineer, doctor, etc requires decades of hard work and practice; becoming a smuggler or murderer is much easier) to make a living, and are monogamous. This is documented fact: Muslims are grossly over-represented among thieves, murderers, gangsters, smugglers and other criminals compared to their share in the overall population.

As this thousand-year-old trend of accelerating Muslim population continues, any political party that confronts Muslim extremism (such as the hue and cry and street rioting violence and arson committed by Indian Muslims over some cartoons published in newspapers in Denmark) will find it more and more difficult to win elections in India.

This is simply a part if the continuing slide into higher and higher levels of Islamic extremism that has been happening in India over the last 1000 years.

Based on how things have shaped up earlier in recent history when Muslims crossed 20 per cent of Indian population (in 1946, when a Muslim leader Muhammad Ali Jinnah managed to build the flames of Islamic fanaticism in about half of undivided India's Muslim population, comprising about 10 per cent of the total population of undivided India at that time and started a "jihaad" for Partition marked with large-scale rioting -- directly brought on by Jinnah with his calls for "Direct Action" and "jihaad" -- in which hundreds of thousands of innocent Hindu men women and children were butchered in West Punjab, Calcutta, and East Bengal by Muslim League fanatics while the provisional Muslim League governments that controlled the police forces calmly watched, and finally took 25% of Indian land to create West and East Pakistan in 1947) the future does not look very promising.

Hindustan Times reports:

Race for Muslim votes hots up in UP
M Hasan
Lucknow, November 19, 2006

Muslim electorates are up for grabs. There is intense competition among non-BJP parties for crucial minority votes in the state. The parties have been trying to tap all resources to capture this constituency.

Chief Minister Mulayam Singh Yadav is on pre-poll dole distribution spree to keep the fast eroding base in the community intact. From Lucknow to Malegaon and now proposed rally Mumbai on November 21, "Maulana" Mulayam has been trying to give message that he is only the true saviour of the community.

The BSP chief Mayawati has also undertaken exercise to go beyond "Dalit-plus-other-community" vote politics. The BSP has been preparing Muslim manifesto to widen base in the community. The Congress has planned to come out with an action plan based on recommendations of Justice Rajinder Sachar committee report for overall socio-economic upliftment of the community.

While providing largess to the community, the chief minister had announced in his budgetary speech that, "in order to ensure participation of minority community in government employment and boost their education a commission would be constituted which would submit its report within three months". The fate of this commission is not yet known. The government had also announced to establish coaching centre for the minority community students appearing in all India and state civil services.

The Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), which is yet to decide about electoral alliance, presumably has not given thought to the issue. The party had so far been thriving on Jat-Muslim combination in Western UP, which is now under pressure because of Muslim's United Democratic Front (UDF).

With the crucial UP assembly elections round the corner, every party has been promising moon to the community. Apart from sops there are deliberate efforts by the SP to create fear psychosis of BJP comeback. However, the parties that were in power during the last five years had hardly any credible record for the welfare of the community. Even though tall promises were made, there had been no attempt for policy intervention to remotely eradicate basic socio-economic problems of the community.

While the BSP had no specific action plan during its 15-month regime, Yadav government adopted "Ulema-centric" approach to keep tight leash over the community. Local bodies elections however indicated that the strategy has backfired. The SP's "cash-n-kind" support to turbaned Mullahs has not gone down well with the community. There is strong feeling in the community that clerics could no longer be arbitrators of their votes.

Ulema have also been trying to directly fish in troubled waters in UP. Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad vainly floated People's Democratic Front (PDF), which was shelved after few months. Simultaneous launch of UDF headed by Jama Masjid Imam Ahmad Bukhari has also turned out to be a rudderless boat. Since politics is no longer taboo for the Ulema (clerics), they have been cleverly trying to mix religion with politics to retain their stranglehold on the community. Encouraged by "Ajmal phenomenon" in Assam, the UP clerics have been trying to replicate Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) experiment.

Interestingly the poor community is simply a bystander in the whole unfolding political drama. The AUDF headed by Maulana Badruddin Ajmal exploited Muslims sentiments in Assam following the Congress failure to retain the contentious Illegal Migrants (determination of tribunals) Act, 1983, which was struck down by the Supreme Court as ultra vires of the Constitution.

Bukhari, known for hobnobbing with political parties in the past, has been trying to project himself as sole arbitrator of Muslims in the state, which has not gone down well with the community. The motives of all the Ulema are also suspected in the eyes of the common Muslims. While clerics have been trying to win over support the people have been making efforts to decipher the hand of political parties behind each cleric. "Who is working for whom?", is the question doing round in the community. Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind has also split vertically. While JUH president Arshad Madni is close to the Congress, general secretary Mahmood Madni has become Rajya Sabha member with the help of Rashtriya Lok Dal and Samajwadi Party.

From 15 percent in 1991 census the Muslim population in 2001 census has gone up to 18.5 percent in UP. Of the total 16.61 crore population in the state, Muslim constituted three crore. While Muslim population is mixed in both urban and rural areas it has mainly urban concentration. The dominance of the community continues to be in Saharanpur, Bijnore, Meerut, Barielly, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Pilibhit, Rampur, Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Budaun and Lakhimpur Khiri and Lucknow. There are 130 assembly segments in which the community's presence is more than 20 percent.

The literacy rate is 47.8 percent with female literacy at 37.4 percent. The literacy scenario in Muslim community is grim as against Hindus' 58 percent and female literacy 43.1 percent in this community. Significantly there is also considerable gap in the work participation rate of 29.1 percent in Muslims and 33.2 percent in Hindus.

The chief minister had also targeted the largest segment of Muslim community by bringing Muslim girls passing Aalia examination from Arabi-Persian Board, which is equivalent to Intermediate in the state, under Kanya Vidyadhan yojana (scholarship scheme for girls). On the pattern of government run junior high schools, the chief minister had also decided to provide free of cost textbooks to students of approved madarsas up to Fauqania level (8th class). Yadav said pay scales of Arabi-Persian schools teachers would be upgraded which would benefit 4500 teachers in the state.

A provision of Rs seven crore was made in the current budget. In 13 Muslim dominated districts primary and junior high schools would be established on priority with the provision of computer education in junior classes. In order to give impetus to computer education, the government had earmarked Rs 52 lakh to 50 madrassas and also establish 25 ITIs in minority dominated development blocks in rural areas. However, the minister for Haj and minorities affairs Haji Yaqoob Qureshi told Hindustan Times that most of the announcements were on paper. Qureshi said that government had done nothing for the welfare of the community during the last three years.

While the SP has been carrying on campaign against Mayawati for her "Muslim-are-fanatics" statement she had come out openly in support of the community by demanding recall of India's envoy to Denmark on Danish Cartoon issue. Mayawati had also sought restoration of minority character to Aligarh Muslim University (AMU). The BSP has veered round to the view that Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim tie-up could become unassailable electoral combination in the state. But the BSP is to go long way in regaining the trust of the community. Its strategy is now to reach out the community directly.

Email mhasan@hindustantimes.com




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