As firebrand leader from Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Yogi Adityanath, took oath as the new Uttar Pradesh chief minister on Sunday, members of the Muslim community in the city said he needs to shed his hardliner image and work for the development agenda of ‘sabka saath, sabka vikas’.
Booth-level voting figures from the five assembly seats in Ghaziabad district suggest that Muslim-dominated areas voted largely for the Samajwadi Party (SP)-Congress combine and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The elevation of Yogi Adityanath as CM is also seen as a move to consolidate the Hindu vote ahead of the 2019 general elections.
“In our interactions with people, it looks like there has been polarisation and votes were divided on Hindu-Muslim lines. There was a false propaganda during campaigning that could have led to a law and order problem. The new CM is considered a hardliner and gives fiery speeches. We were expecting Rajnath Singh, but Yogi Adityanath’s selection has come as surprise. He has been brought before the 2019 elections, perhaps to further polarise voters,” said advocate Khushnuma Khanam.
KZ Bukhari, a popular Muslim cleric from Ghaziabad. “For past 60-70 years, a fear has been instilled in the minds of Muslims that if the BJP comes to power, there will be suppression and riots. Muslim votes have not gone to the BJP as projected,” he said.
Speaking on polarisation on both sides, he said, “Some of our religious leaders try to get us to view Hindus with suspicion... But how long can such politics go on? Why should brothers remain apart? Now they ask us what to do now that Hindus have united (to vote),” he added.
However, BJP’s newly-elected MLA from Modi Nagar, Dr Manju Shivach, said people came together to vote for the BJP due to PM Modi’s development works.
“It is not a Modi wave like 2014 that swept this election, but it has been Modiji’s hard work for the past two-and-a-half years that has attracted people. It has even attracted Muslims who want development,” she said.
“There are sections of Muslims who voted for the BJP this time too. They did so for the development agenda, especially PM Modi’s call to end corruption with demonetisation,” said Dasna resident Kamal Pasha whose family has been voting for BJP candidates for past 12 years, before which they used to support the Congress.
“We expect Yogi Adityanath to work for development. His statements in his speeches are more political, but issues such as Mandir-Masjid (Ram Janmbhoomi-Babri Masjid) are to be decided by the court,” he said.
According to his family, they support the BJP as even lower-rung workers are respected in the party, which is not the case with other parties. However, Pasha said the triple talaq issue taken up by the BJP this election failed to make an impact. Women from the community too echoed this view.
“No one will want to stray from the teachings and rules of their religion, neither Hindus nor Muslims. There has been a view floated that Muslim women voting for the BJP in large numbers on the issue of triple talaq. But that is not the case. Instead, it was a majority of Hindu voters who voted for the BJP,” Khanam said.
Bukhari too said the triple talaq issue did not have an effect on Muslim women voters.
“There have been some women who have been raising this issue time and again, but they are less in number. However, there are Muslims who regularly vote for the BJP too,” he said.