With sharp differences coming up among the constituents of United Democratic Front (UDF) led by Delhi Jama Masjid Imam Ahmad Bukhari, Muslims' "Assam experiment" has failed to take off even before the assembly elections in the state.
Amid lukewarm response from the community to the UDF during local bodies elections Parcham Party of India (PPI) and UP Muslim Majlis have now parted ways with the front.
However, the UDF president Yusuf Quershi said on Sunday that "UDF is firmly in the saddle and ticket distribution work would commence in Lucknow next week."
While leaving the UDF, the PPI president Saleem Peerzada had accused the UDF leadership of not taking him into confidence before getting the UDF registered with the Election Commission. He said UDF was an umbrella organiSation under which various constituents were to contest the elections. But Qureshi said that "UP UDF was a separate political entity, which has been registered".
The Ulema (clerics) controlled People's democratic Front (PDF) headed by Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad and later UDF led by Bukhari were floated with fanfare on the pattern of Assam UDF of Maulana Badruddin Ajmal last year.
While Jawad quickly abandoned the idea of leading the party, Bukhari's UDF has been struggling for survival. Almost all the constituents, including Momin Conference, Nationalist Loktantrik Party and others have now moved away for greener pastures.
Peerzada told HT on Sunday "clerics are not capable of running a political party". He said "better they should leave the field to the secular forces". Peerzada said politics is not their cup of tea and they (ulema) should confine themselves to religious activities. However, Yusuf said "Peerzada has left the UDF out of confusion". He said UP UDF was "floated as a political unit which was independent of UDF".
The fragmentation of the Muslim fronts is certainly music to the ear of Samajwadi Party leadership. The SP was quite concerned over the formation of the Muslim fronts and had immediately launched damage control exercise by wooing clerics involved in their formation.
These clerics, both Shia and Sunni, had been beneficiaries of the government's largess. However the SP's tough stand condemning the hanging of deposed Iraqi President Saddam Hussein has created a piquant situation for Shia clerics close to the chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav. Shias have welcomed the hanging.
Since the Sunni-dominated Arab world is opposed to Nuclear Iran, Yadav had annoyed the Sunni community in Lucknow last year on his support to Iran and now Shias are hostile to him on the Saddam issue. The Congress has however been trying to tread the middle path and has also succeeded in bringing All India Shia Personal Law Board headed by Maulana Mirza Mohammad Athar closer.
Athar's son Yasoob Abbas was included in the Prime Minister's Haj delegation to Saudi Arabia last month.
Email Masoodul Hasan: mhasan @hindustantimes.com