Burqa clad Muslim women show their voter ID card while lined up outside a polling station to cast their vote during Uttarakhand Assembly polls, in Dehradun. UNI Photo
The rivalry between the SP and the Congress for Muslim votes before the assembly elections in UP has caused a division in the All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
One group comprising leaders mostly from UP is siding with the SP, while the other, more dominant on the board's national landscape, is with the Congress.
The differences were under wraps until a group of board leaders launched the Dastoor Bachao Tehreek (save the customs campaign) for the first time in Farrukhabad recently.
The campaign, with an anti-Congress tenor, is about a specific set of issues. On the surface, it is a joint effort of different Muslim bodies, but it has the backing of the board.
However, Maulana Mohammed Wali Rahmani, secretary of the board, didn't attend the campaign launch though his name was prominently there on the publicity material. "Maulana Rahmani is known for his softness for the Congress," a board member said.
Those closely watching the situation say it has been sparked by three factors. On top is the Batla House encounter, which continues to simmer, neutralising the friendly overtures of the Congress.
Next is the Congress's reported indifference to the changes the board is seeking in the Right to Education Act and central waqf bill. And, taking out mosques/seminaries out of the direct tax code purview is the third sticking point.