After over two decades of mistrust, just when the Muslims had come around to accepting the Congress, Rahul Gandhi’s statement burst the bubble.
The Babri masjid demolition of 1992 had driven a wedge between the Muslims and the Congress. But lately, the community had moved closer to the party – given Narendra Modi’s appointment as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate and the Muzaffarnagar riots, for which they considered the ruling SP as much responsible as the BJP.
But now, the Muslims are back at the crossroads, compelled to revise their poll strategy.
Two regional parties are expected to benefit from this turn of events – the BSP and the SP.
“The statement underscores the Muslims’ fear that they are like bay leaves, which are used to flavour vegetables and meat but are thrown away after use,” said Maulana Arif of Bahraich. “This time, the Muslims would take a final call during elections, not on basis of promises, but concrete proof of sincerity to their cause.”
As the polls are still some way off, Muslims would weigh their options further. But with the community comprising 17% of the state’s population and playing a decisive role in 30-odd parliamentary constituencies, its black mood does not bode well for the Congress.