Burqa-clad voters after casting their votes at a polling station, during the final phase of Uttar Pradesh assembly elections in Rampur. PTI Photo.
The incoming Uttar Pradesh assembly will have 63 Muslim MLAs, an all-time record, beating the previous record of 56 MLAs set in 2007.
In fact, Muslim representation in the UP assembly has risen steadily from 25 in 1993.
Meanwhile, it is now clear that the Muslims of the state have voted overwhelmingly for the Samajwadi Party. The results in the 122 constituencies in the state in which Muslims play a crucial to decisive role show that half (61) went to Mulayam Singh Yadav’s party. The Muslim population in these 122 seats ranges from 20% to 50%.
The Congress, which ran a shrill campaign to woo the Muslims with the promise of a quota, and its alliance partner Rashtriya Lok Dal had to remain content with 15 of these 122 seats, almost all of them in western UP. It was generally believed that Congress and RLD would sweep the area as Jats and Muslims would be too formidable a combination to defeat, especially after they had poached the prominent Muslim leader of the belt, Rashid Masood.
In fact, this aggressive campaign to woo Muslims led to a polarisation of Hindu votes behind the BJP, which helped the saffron party to win 16 of the 122 seats under consideration.
The BSP bagged 25 of these Muslim-dominated constituencies. Eleven of these 25 MLAs are Muslims.
Like the SP, the BSP had fielded 84 Muslim candidates. The Congress gave tickets to 60 Muslims.
Muslims, who constitute about 17% of Uttar Pradesh’s population, were traditionally seen, till the ’80s, as a Congress votebank.
Since the elections in 1989, however, the community is considered to have shifted its loyalties to Mulayam and the SP.
The Congress, which is going all out to regain its political presence in UP, announced a quota for backward sections of the community within the overall 27% backward caste quota. But the impression created during the polls, that the Congress and the SP were headed for an alliance, seems to have benefitted the latter more.