Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav has launched a massive exercise to regain the support of the Muslim community, a section of which has ditched him and turned to the Congress.
It was the unstinted support of this community that had made Yadav a major player in UP politics.
After distancing himself from former BJP leader Kalyan Singh, Yadav has directed presidents of SP’s units to hold meetings in Muslim-dominated areas and demand the reconstruction of the Babri Masjid, a lifting of the ban on SIMI, a judicial probe into the Batla House encounter and the publishing of the Liberhan Commission and Sri Krishna Commission reports.
Yadav, who had been nicknamed Maulana Mulayam for wooing the Muslim community, has seen his grip over this crucial vote bank weaken, especially after his tie-up with Kalyan Singh, seen as the man behind the demolition of Babri Masjid.
This has had a serious impact on the electoral fortunes of the SP, which failed to win a single seat in the recent by-elections. Even Dimple, his daughter-in-law, lost the Lok Sabha by-election for the Firozabad seat.
Party leaders are optimistic that Yadav’s call for reconstructing the Babri Masjid will attract the community.
“We are telling the Muslim community that Mulayam has broken his relationship with Kalyan (Singh) but (former) Shiv Sena leader Sanjay Nirupam, who was involved in Mumbai riots, is very much a member of the Congress,” said S. Jamiullah, president of the SP’s Aligarh district unit.
But many people outside the party felt that raising such an issue would help the BJP regain its strength in the state.
All India Muslim Personal Law Board member Zafar Yab Jilani said,“We want a quick disposal of the case, but we have never demanded its reconstruction.”
But SP leaders are determined to win Muslim support. “Many Muslims are returning to the SP,” said Sahab Ansari, president, SP Gorakhpur unit.