So far, so good. In the joust for Muslim votes, Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati has emerged as the frontrunner. She has decided to field more candidates from the community and has even ensured the backing of a huge section of the influential Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind.
The Samajwadi Party’s decision to bring in former BJP leader Kalyan Singh — he was the Uttar Pradesh chief minister when the Babri Masjid was demolished in 1992 — will only slide its support among the community further, Muslim leaders said.
In a deft move, the BSP has named Maudood Madni, the brother of Jamiat Ulama-e-Hind heavyweight Mahmood Madni, as its Amroha candidate among a string of Muslim contenders from western UP.
They include Tabassum Manowar from the Kairana, Qadir Rana from Muzzafarpur, Shahid Siddiqui from Bijnor and Islam Shabir from Bareilly, seat of the Barelvi Muslim sect. “Twenty per cent of our seats will go to Muslim candidates this time,” Munquad Ali, BSP Member of Parliament who is also in charge of western UP, told HT.
A Jamiat office-bearer in Delhi said Mahmood Madni would press his cadres to back his brother, who has joined the fray with his consent. “The party is not important. The issues are. Dalits and Muslims have always been deprived,” Mahmood Madni said.
“We’ll oppose any Muslim support for the SP,” Mehboob Ahmed, UP chief of the All-India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat, said from Allahabad. Only Imam Ahmed Bukhari of Delhi’s Jama Masjid has been silent on the SP’s moves so far.
“Mayawati seems to have an edge primarily because there is an inclusive approach. The BSP is getting more democratic and is including other sections outside the grand ‘Bahujan’ constituency. The SP’s arguments aren’t convincing, particularly for Muslims,” said Hilal Ahmed, associate fellow at the Centre for the Study of Developing Societies.
Joining the fight for Muslim votes in UP, the Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) on Monday announced that it would contest from UP, Bihar, Maharashtra and Jharkhand. The AUDF, led by Assam Jamiat leader Badruddin Ajmal, has 10 members in the Assam assembly.
This is for the first time that a regional Muslim party from Assam has decided to contest nationally.