By Shafey Danish (NVONews.Com)
So here are the facts: half a dozen Muslim political parties are in the fray in UP. More than half a dozen infact. According to one report Maulana Syed Salman Nadwi had played matchmaker for as many as 13 parties, not all of them Muslim, bringing them on the same platform. Quite literally in fact. They did share the same platform at an event organized in December 2011.
That particular platform was led by the Peace Party, otherwise known as Ekta Manch and Ittehad Party. The parties in the alliance include the Indian Justice Party, Apna Dal, Om Prakash Rajbhar’s Bhartiya Samaj Party, Qaumi Ekta Dal of Mukhtar Ansari, Ittehad-e-Millat Council of Maulana Tauqeer Raza Khan, etc, etc. Then of course there is the Ulema Council, an outfit that got a lot of attention the last time around but failed to win any seats. There are parties like the Rashtriya Inquilab Party, (which unfortunately comes down to RIP), which unlike the rest, is willing to go into alliance with the BJP. The party is formed by a breakaway MP of the BSP, Ilyas Azmi.
The idea is there are a lot of political parties who are fighting for the Muslims this time, and this is not counting the big national parties like the Congress are busy wooing the Muslims too. The traditional regional heavyweights, the SP and the BSP are trying there level best to live up to the competition. (The BJP meanwhile has decided that the Muslims will not vote for it anyway, so its total number of Muslims candidates is 1.)
But the question is what does this mean for the Muslims?
For one, it means that the Muslim voter is getting unprecedented attention this time. The Muslim vote is thought to be crucial, and therefore the bigger parties have fielded a record number of Muslims. The Peace Party has as many as 90 Muslim candidates among the 110 seats it is contesting, the SP is fielding 86 candidates, followed closely by the BSP which is fielding 85, the Congress has 62 Muslims in the fray, and Ulema Council has 35. Quite evidently, given the political alliances the Peace Party of India (PPI) has made and the number of candidates it is fielding, it is the most serious independent Muslim party in the fray.
Unlike the last time, some maturity is also evident in the Muslim parties, who have fielded a large number of non-Muslim candidates. The peace party which counts numerous non-Muslim parties in its alliance members, does not even say it is a Muslim party, it instead projects itself as a party for the backward, the party of the downtrodden. It had during the last bye-elections in the state it trounced the Congress by fielding a Brahmin against the Congress’ Muslim candidate in Lakhimpur.
The Ulema Council has gone a step further, it has fielded more non-Muslim than Muslim candidates. Only 35, out of a total of 140 of its candidates, are Muslims.
“Let alone Muslim votes, we are also eating into the Dalit vote bank of the BSP and Brahmin vote bank of BJP. While a large number of Muslim voters are with us, we will also get the vote of the castemen of candidates on various seats. We also have 30 Brahmins in the fray,” PPI chief Dr Ayub told media.
What it also means that Muslim issues are getting a lot more attention. The Congress, the BSP and the SP have all dangled reservations in front of the Muslim electorate. Maya has written to the PM, established a school to promote Urdu is giving bicycles to muslim girls. What more could you ask? Salman Khursheed has promised 4.5% quota from the Congress, and SP is keeping its cards close, but promises to do much.
Yet there is not talk of one of the most crucial things: security. None of the parties are promising to end the lawless killings of Muslims youths which was the first impulse behind the mushrooming of the parties. No one is talking of the unjust ban on SIMI, and the harassment being faced by its members, no one is talking of ending the countrywide campaign against the Muslims by vested forces entrenched in the government. These issues, are the real hot issues behind the issues.
As of now, it seems that the various Muslims outfits are set to cancel each other out. What is more, they probably would queer the pitch for the bigger parties, and in the bargain divide up the Muslim vote. These things though bad in the short term, will ultimately stand the community in good stead going forward. As the peace party says, ultimately in 2017 or around the Muslims and their parties should really come into their own. Expect the real issues to come out of the closets then. For now, watch the UP spring.