For the second time, efforts of India Against Corruption to court Muslims have failed squarely, with prominent organisations in Mumbai slamming the doors on it.
Responding to India Against Corruption's Arvind Kejriwal's appeal, Muslim organisations, for the first time ahead of key polls, could be heard speaking favourably of the Congress, whose ratings in the community have been bolstered by a recent government decision on affirmative action for Muslims.
Why was Anna Hazare, the lead anti-graft campaigner, "targeting only the Congress" when all parties tend to be corrupt, they asked. Analysts say it is still too early to judge which way Muslims will vote in UP.Desperate to shrug off anti-corruption icon Anna Hazare's alleged links with the right-wing Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS), Kejriwal had met key Muslim leaders ahead of his fast in Mumbai.
In a joint statement, Muslim groups not only said they had "serious doubts" about Hazare's connections with the RSS, but also condemned him for "strengthening communal forces". Minority rights campaigner and film-maker Mahesh Bhatt was one of the signatories.
Keen on enlisting minority supporters in Mumbai, which has a significant Muslim population, Kejriwal emphasised that Hazare's fight was against corruption and Muslims were wholeheartedly invited.
The appeal fell flat. "Any movement that targets only the Congress is aimed at strengthening communal forces and the BJP," All India Muslim Personal Law Board secretary Abdus Sattar Sheikh said.
Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind's Maharashtra president Mustaqim Ashan Azmi said Muslims were not convinced Hazare had links with the RSS. Jamiat's powerful all-India chief Arshad Madni said: "Hazare's campaign is for the right cause, but the intentions are wrong. He wants to directly strengthen communal forces."
Mumbai Aman Committee chief Farid Shaikh said: "Now that UPA has done something good for Muslims (reservation in jobs), communal forces are getting at it."
Muslims maintain that they perceive Hazare to be "friendly" with "anti-minority elements". In August, when Hazare held a similar protest in Delhi, Kejriwal and close aide Kiran Bedi had sought Muslim support, which too failed to move the community.