New Age Islam
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Islam and Politics ( 17 May 2009, NewAgeIslam.Com)

Back To Congress Fold: Indian Muslims Shift Political Base

BACK TO CONGRESS FOLD

By Ravi Bajpai in New Delhi

THE ‘M’ FACTOR SHIFTS BASE

By Giridhar Jha in Patna

MULAYAM NO LONGER A MAULANA IN HOME TURF

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow

LEFT NOT RIGHT CHOICE ANYMORE IN BENGAL

Aloke Banerjee in Kolkata

A Mail Today report

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/back-to-congress-fold--indian-muslims-shift-political-base--/d/1411

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BACK TO CONGRESS FOLD

By Ravi Bajpai in New Delhi

 

MUSLIMS in Delhi settled the dust over the controversy over their loyalties shifting to the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), as they rallied behind the Congress candidates in the three seats where their vote really mattered.

 

A chunk of Muslims, who form nearly 16 per cent of the city’s electorate, are concentrated in the Chandni Chowk, east Delhi and Northeast Delhi constituencies.

 

The Congress posted its top three victory margins in Delhi from these seats, with Sandeep Dikshit, Kapil Sibal and J.P. Aggarwal winning nearly two-thirds mandate in some pockets.

 

The BSP is perceived as a threat to the Muslim votebank of the Congress ever since it won nine per cent votes in the last municipal polls. It then bettered the share to 14 per cent and won two seats in the assembly elections last year.

 

In the Okhla assembly segment, where Muslims are angry with the Congress ever since the Batla House encounter, the resentment was evident. Congress’s Parvez Hashmi could just manage to scrape past the BSP candidate by a narrow margin of 543 votes last year. In this election though, Congress’s Sandeep Dikshit received a resounding two-thirds mandate from the same area.

 

“The message is clear. Muslims want security and they see the Congress as the only party capable of providing it. Whatever advances the BSP had made have been reversed in this election,” said a senior Congress leader.

 

In the four Muslim-dominated pockets of Chandni Chowk constituency, Kapil Sibal defeated BJP’s Vijender Gupta hands down. He won a near two-thirds mandate in the Chandni Chowk and the Matiala assembly segments.

 

In Northeast Delhi, which has nearly 21 per cent Muslim voters, Congress state president J.P. Aggarwal won handsomely in Babarpur and Mustafabad assembly segments. He defeated his BJP rival by nearly 40000 votes in the Seelampur assembly segment.

 

A Congress leader said Varun Gandhi’s Pilibhit speeches prompted Muslims to consolidate and rally behind the Congress as a block. “He helped consolidate the Muslim vote for us. In any case, Muslims venture towards the BSP only in elections of smaller scale but stay behind the Congress during the general election,” said the leader.

 

ravi.bajpai@mailtoday.in

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THE ‘M’ FACTOR SHIFTS BASE

 

By Giridhar Jha in Patna

 

RASHTRIYA Janata Dal (RJD) president Lalu Prasad’s citadel of Muslim-Yadav (MY) votebank lies in ruins in Bihar. At least the “M” component of his support base has drifted away from him and his alliance partner, Lok Janshakti Party, to ensure their near-total rout in this Lok Sabha election.

 

Lalu has lost majority of the seats where the Muslim voters are in sizeable numbers. The RJD has lost Kishanganj, Darbhanga, Samastipur, Siwan, Gopalganj and Khagaria, where Muslim voters are in sizeable numbers. The party won these seats in the 2004 polls.'

 

Evidently, a clear division in the Muslim votebank marginalised the RJD in the state, where it has won only four seats out of the 28 it contested. In 2004, Lalu’s party had wrested 22 of the 26 seats it had fought. Since the creation of the Samata Party in 1994, Lalu had relied on the MY combination to win polls. But in this election, Lalu failed to retain the support of Muslims, who constitute 16.5 per cent of the population.

 

In Kishanganj where Muslims account for two-thirds of the voters, it was a Congress candidate (Mohammed Asrarul Haq) who won. In Madhubani, Lalu fielded the party’s state unit president Abdul Bari Siddiqui against Congress’s Dr Shakeel Ahmad. As a result, both lost, helping BJP nominee Hukumdeo Narain Yadav to win.

 

In the face of chief minister Nitish Kumar’s welfare schemes, Lalu found it tough to prevent his traditional votebank from being disintegrated. Though Nitish always talked about “inclusive growth” for all sections of society, he paid special attention to the welfare of Muslims.

 

From reopening the Bhagalpur riot cases and distributing free books among minority students to nomination of two backward Muslims leader to the Rajya Sabha and fencing burial grounds, he played his cards well to woo the Muslims. But it was not only the state government’s pro-Muslim packages that tilted the balance in NDA’s favour, it was also Lalu’s tactical blunder of severing ties with the Congress in the run-up to the polls that hurt his prospects.

 

Lalu had apparently calculated that the presence of Congress candidates in the fray would damage the NDA candidates, but it happened otherwise.

 

giridhar.jha@mailtoday.in

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 MULAYAM NO LONGER A MAULANA IN HOME TURF

By Piyush Srivastava in Lucknow

 

IT SEEMS Muslims in Uttar Pradesh have forgiven the Congress for being a mute witness to the Babri Masjid demolition. They voted emphatically for the party, helping it bag 21 of the state’s 80 Lok Sabha seats.

 

In 2004, the Congress won just nine seats in the most populous state. Senior Muslim clerics underscored this paradigm shift. They said there was no en masse voting in favour of any party. The Congress’s revival in the state encouraged them to vote for the party.

 

In the process, UP’s Muslims stripped Mulayam Singh Yadav of his ‘Maulana’ status. All 12 Muslim candidates fielded by his Samajwadi Party (SP) lost either to candidates from the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) or the Congress. In 2004, 11 of SP’s 35 MPs were Muslims.

 

Four of them later switched loyalties. The remaining seven contested this time too but suffered defeat even in Muslim-dominated constituencies. Muslim Personal Law Board member Khalid Rashid Firangimahli said: “Their behaviour has varied from constituency to constituency.

 

In Lucknow, where the BJP won, the Muslim voted mostly for the Congress. In Saharanpur, they voted for Jagdish Singh Rana of the BSP because they were angry with the SP and the other candidates were not relevant. In Muzaffarnagar, they voted for BSP’s Kadir Rana as they were angry with Rashtriya Lok Dal’s (RLD) Anuradha Chaudhary. Muslims thought Mulayam was ditching them and looked for an option.”

 

A large chunk of the state’s 18.5 per cent Muslims shifted to the Congress. Three of the party’s nine Muslim candidates — Mohammad Azharuddin (from Moradabad), Jafar Ali Naqvi (Kheri) and Salman Khursheed (Farrukhabad) — won. Many Hindu candidates also won on Congress tickets from seats where the Muslim population was above 20 per cent. They include Kamal Kishore (from Bahraich), Rajaram Pal (Akbarpur), P.L. Punia (Barabanki) and Praveen Aron (Bareilly).

 

The BSP had fielded 14 Muslims, of whom four won —Tabaddum Begum (from Kairana), Kadir Rana (Muzaffarnagar), Shafiq-ur-Rahman Barq (Sambhal) and Kaisar Jahan (Sitapur). According to UP chief minister Mayawati, lack of Muslim votes cost her party 60 seats. “We lost because Muslims didn’t support us. Those who won enjoyed personal rapport with them,” she said. “This happened because of the Opposition’s negative campaign that I may tie up with the BJP,” she added.

 

The SP was known to be pro-Muslim as Mulayam consistently opposed BJP’s posture on the Babri Masjid issue. But in 2009, the party’s facelessness brought its tally down to 23 seats. Mulayam and his party general secretary Amar Singh gave mixed signals through their statements and actions. While proximity with Babri demolition villain and rebel BJP leader Kalyan Singh harmed the party, it was also perceived to be close to the BJP, which retained the temple issue in its manifesto.

 

SP’s Mahboob Ali lost to RLD’s Devendra Nagpal in Amroha and Shabbir Ahmed lost to Congress’ Kamal Kishore in Bahraich. Many in the party blamed the Muslim no-show on the direct and indirect support by the party to many BJP candidates. The SP didn’t contest Ghaziabad and Mathura, ensuring easy victory for BJP president Rajnath Singh and his ally RLD president Ajit Singh’s son Jayant Chaudhary. It also put up a weak Nafisa Ali against BJP’s Lalji Tandon in Lucknow.

 

Obviously, the community did not vote on religious line in most seats. This ensured BJP candidate Ramakant Yadav’s victory in Azamgarh where the Muslim vote was split between the BSP’s Akbar Ahmad Dumpy and Ulama Council’s Dr Javed Akhtar. Ulema Council convenor Amir Rashadi said: “We didn’t vote for any particular party or for anyone just because the candidate was a Muslim. We want to experiment with our own party for at least three elections and emerge as a strong political force.”

 

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LEFT NOT RIGHT CHOICE ANYMORE IN BENGAL

Aloke Banerjee in Kolkata

 

IN WEST Bengal, Muslims have unhesitatingly voted for the Left Front (LF) for the past few decades. But this election brought an end to the Left-Muslim bonhomie. When the CPM-led LF government provided shelter to Kutubuddin Ansari — the face of the Gujarat riots — in Kolkata, West Bengal came to be known as the safest haven for Muslims in the country.

 

Yet, in six districts of West Bengal, where Muslims have a sizeable population, the LF was routed on Saturday. In Murshidabad and Malda, the Congress swept all five Lok Sabha seats. The Trinamool Congress took all nine seats in North and South 24 Parganas and all four seats in Howrah and East Midnapore, where the Nandigram fiasco took place.

 

This, for the first time, brought home the reality that the isolation of the minorities from the Left was real. The phenomenon has spread across both rural and urban seats. It started in Singur and Nandigram, where a large number of Muslim peasants were affected by the government’s land-acquisition drives. But the police high handedness in the Rizwanur case brought to fore a sort of apathy on the state government’s part towards the minority community even in Kolkata. “Muslims in this state considered themselves safe, unlike in many other states. That is true even now. But the Left Front government largely ignored us and used us only as a votebank.

 

They are paying the price now,” said Rukbanur Rahman. The death of his brother Rizwanur sowed the seeds of unrest among the minority community. Rizwanur, a computer graphics designer, married Priyanka, daughter of industrialist Ashok Todi. The Todis were opposed to the match and allegedly influenced the Kolkata Police to pressure Rizwanur to annul the marriage.

 

Rizwanur was repeatedly called to the police headquarters and threatened with dire consequence if he did not divorce Priyanka. A few weeks later his body was found beside railway tracks near Kolkata’s Patipukur area.

 

“We had thought that the Left Front government would come to the aid of Muslims. Instead, we found it was trying to protect the police. Their commitment to secularism is restricted to getting Muslim votes,” Rukbanur said. The final nail in the coffin was put by the Sachhar Committee report. It brought out how, after 32 years of uninterrupted LF rule, the Muslims lagged in development indices. The Opposition effectively used the report to isolate the Muslims from the Left, agreed CPM central committee member Shyamali Gupta.

 

URL: http://www.newageislam.com/islam-and-politics/back-to-congress-fold--indian-muslims-shift-political-base--/d/1411

 

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