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Muslim parties in UP may hit secular forces

The poll equations in Uttar Pradesh (UP) are fast changing. With some Muslim organizations fielding their own candidates in several Lok Sabha constituencies, minority vote is likely to be split. M Hasan reports.

india Updated: Mar 18, 2009 01:35 IST
M Hasan

The poll equations in Uttar Pradesh (UP) are fast changing. With some Muslim organizations fielding their own candidates in several Lok Sabha constituencies, minority vote is likely to be split.

The Azamgarh-based Ulema Council has already named five candidates, other parties, like the Parcham Party of India and Muslim Majlis, have also announced their participation. The Dr Mohd Ayub-led Peace Party, which has entered into alliance with the Ulema Council, plans to contest nearly 12 seats in Purvanchal.

This is likely to further cut down the vote share of the four major parties — Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)— in the state as all alliances have practically failed and it’s every man for himself here.

The Muslim parties, though hopeful, are unlikely to win on their own since hardly any constituency in UP has more than 20 per cent Muslim vote base. Quite unlike Assam where Muslim parties do succeed because there are seats with up to 90 per cent of Muslim voters. Despite all this, these candidates would certainly have an impact on the poll result. “They need support of other communities,” said All-India Muslim Personal Law Board (AIMPLB) member and Naib Imam Eidgah’s Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahli.

The community is hotly debating how this development would affect the fortunes of the secular parties.

The big four — SP, BSP, Congress and BJP — are also keenly watching the development, as even a minor migration of Muslim votes in a closely fought contest would directly affect them.

“Transfer of a few thousands Muslim votes would affect other parties,” Rashid said, adding that it would only strengthen communal forces in the state.

Ulema Council chief Maulana Rashad Madni wants to damage both BSP and Congress for their role against the Azamgarh youth in terror-related cases. The Council has fielded candidates from Azamgarh, Lalganj, Machlishahr, Jaunpur and Lucknow.

Madni said that they would also take on Rahul and Sonia Gandhi in Amethi and Rai Bareli respectively.

The Muslim parties’ move to field contest on their own has split the community and its clerics. “It would prove counter-productive. They might adversely affect secular parties in some areas,” said Rashid. But the Azamgarh clerics are unrelenting.