‘Terror nursery’ turns poll hub | india | Hindustan Times
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‘Terror nursery’ turns poll hub

Terror remains the key issue in the coming Lok Sabha poll as well, with most Muslim residents convinced that their boys have been framed and unfairly maligned, reports Manish Chandra Pandey.

india Updated: Apr 10, 2009 00:15 IST
Manish Chandra Pandey

The flag is an unfamiliar one. It looks like the tricolour inverted with the Ashoka Chakra at the centre removed.

It is a brand new party, the Ulema Council, contesting elections for the first time. Does it stand a chance against local heavyweights Akbar Ahmed ‘Dumpy’ of the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Ramakant Yadav of the BJP, Durga Prasad Yadav of the Samajwadi Party and Santosh Singh of the Congress? Since this is Azamgarh, it does.

Terror brought Azamgarh national notoriety last year after a host of arrested members of the Indian Mujahideen, the group allegedly responsible for the lethal bomb blasts in several cities were found to hail from Azamgarh.

Terror remains the key issue in the coming Lok Sabha poll as well, with most Muslim residents convinced that their boys have been framed and unfairly maligned. Thus the importance of the Ulema Council, which has been formed to ‘seek justice’ for the jailed Azamgarh youth, whose cause none of the mainstream, including those vying for the Muslim vote, like the BSP and the SP, are willing to take up aggressively.

"All parties have cheated us,” said Dr Iftikhar, principal of Shibli Degree College in Azamgarh town. “They have sought Muslim votes claiming they wanted to prevent the saffron brigade from capturing power. But once they defeated the BJP and won power with our help, they forgot all about us. The time has come to dump such parties now.”

The Ulema Council’s flags are everywhere. It’s not a registered party, has no symbol to call its own, yet its candidate Javed Ahmed is in great demand. Even burqa clad women turn up at his rallies, unheard of in Azamgarh for any other candidate.

The other parties in the fray refuse to admit they’re worried. “I’m winning hands down,” said Akbar Ahmed ‘Dumpy’, the BSP candidate. “There’s no contest.”

“Muslims were always with the SP, and will remain with it,” said Vidya Yadav, a leading SP worker in the area.

Most delighted with the Ulema Council rise is Ramakant Yadav of the BJP. Azamgarh, with its large population of Yadavs, Muslims and Dalits, has for a decade now, been fought over between the SP and the BSP. But Yadav, a veteran of many parties, with an impressive number of criminal cases against him, is well aware that the BJP too now has a chance. The Council is polarizing non Muslims voters in his favour.

"Azamgarh has become a nursery for terrorists,” he roared at meeting after meeting. “A vote against BJP is a vote against the region’s security.”