The 4.5% minority sub-quota in the 27% quota for other backward classes (OBC) has been able to create a positive buzz for the Congress ahead of UP assembly elections. Though it is too early to say how much this factor will help the Congress (which has been out of power in the state for last 22 years), the issue assumed significant dimensions for the polls to be held in February. However, political observers and community leaders feel that there are some other issues, which would also influence the pattern of Muslim voting.
The issues, besides Muslim quota factor, which may impact their voting include the indiscriminate land acquisition during BSP rule, victimisation of Muslim youngsters in the name of terror suspects, poor status of handicraft and small-scale industries, agriculture woes, local leadership and candidates put by political parties, migration, education and health. National issues like Direct Tax Code Bill, inclusion of minority institutes under the Right to Education and amendment in Wakf Property Bill may also affect the polling trend by 4-5% at the grassroots.
"While, some describe 4.5% Muslim sub-quota as 'something is better than nothing', others describe it as an eyewash. We feel it's regressive as Muslims are already in OBC category and 3-4% get government jobs on their merit. We had asked for reservation for Dalit Muslims in SC category and backward Muslims (10%) as recommended by Sachar and Rangnath Committees' reports. We also want exclusion of minority institutions from Right to Education and religious place from Direct Tax Code Bill, amendment in Wakf Bill. As and when things will be clear to the community, the 'myth' of the Muslim sub-quota will break," said Zafaryab Jilani, member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
Stating that Muslims have been used as votebanks by political parties, Mohammad Naim, a Meerut-based entrepreneur said, "Muslims have got only appeasement since Independence, resulting in a situation that the socio-economic status of 95% Muslims is highly backward in the state. Now Congress has come up with 4.5% sub-quota. It has also tried to address the problems of weavers, predominantly Muslims, in east UP. But, equally pathetic is the condition of industries based on manual labour like brassware, glassware, furniture in west UP. Most of the people employed in these industries are Muslims. Also, Muslims have suffered because of land acquisition. These problems will not be addressed by the Muslim sub-quota."
Analysts believe that while in the West UP, the Muslim mind will be governed by Deobandi and Barelvi schools of thoughts having origin in Saharanpur and Bareilly respectively, the victimisation of terror suspects and migration issue will be more important in the crime belt of East UP with Azamgarh as the epicentre and the socio-economic factors will dominate more in the Central UP.
Like all other communities, one can find different shades in Muslims also post Ram Temple movement of 1992. The hardliners have emerged stronger in Muslim dominated districts of West and East UP like Moradabad, Meerut, Azamgarh and Mau.
"Both, Hindus and Muslims in UP fought freedom struggle together and opposed partition of India. However, in last 20 years, radicalisation of Islam in the world and rise of Hindutava forces in India made hardliners strong in both the communities in some areas of the state. A sense of insecurity has become a major issue of late because of victimisation in the name of terror. Entire community is blamed for fault of a few. Secure atmosphere is essential for a person and a community to focus on development. Communal Violence Bill is one such instrument, which can bring sense of security," said Omar Peerzada, national convener of Aligarh Movement Foundation.
Lucknow: After enjoying the 'elephant ride' and fruits of power for five years, the number of Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) leaders deserting the party ahead of UP assembly elections is rising with every day. The names include families which are politically influential in their respective areas. The latest to leave the party is Haji Yakoob Qureshi, MLA from Meerut, and his son Imran who joined the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) on Monday
Others to leave BSP include Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, MLA from Swartanda in Rampur; Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal and his MLA son from Hardoi and former UP assembly Speaker Dhaniram Verma and his son Mahesh, a BSP MLA. While Khan has joined Congress, Agarwal and Verma switched loyalties to SP. Interestingly, Queshis, Agarwals, Vermas and Khan were earlier in the SP government but defected to BSP when it came to power in 2007.
Khan has come back to Congress via SP and BSP after nine years. Hailing from the royal family of Rampur, Khan had left Congress due to differences with his mother Begum Noor Bano who has been three times Congress MP from Rampur. Khan had won 2007 assembly elections on SP ticket but within 20 days after election, he joined the BSP and quit his assembly seat. Later, he contested and won the byelection from the same seat on BSP ticket. He was one of the few BSP leaders who were allowed by BSP president and UP chief minister Mayawati to interact with media on vital issues. In fact, he was the only English speaking BSP leader who used to take part in talk shows and debates on English news channels. Till last month, he was seen vehemently defending Mayawati on TV.
Next in the line to quit BSP is west UP don DP Yadav along with his wife. Yadav is also heading towards SP. Significantly, most of those leaving BSP have been known party-hoppers and their families hold clout in their respective districts. If DP Yadav holds sway in Budaun, Haji Yaqub Qureshi and his family enjoy clout in communally sensitive Meerut. Naresh Aagrwal was seven times MLA from Hardoi before becoming Rajya Sabha member. The seat was passed on to his son Nitin.
Similarly, Dhaniram Verma, six times MLA, and his son Mahesh are key players in backward dominated areas of Kannauj while Kazim Ali Khan and his mother, hailing from erstwhile Nawab family, are a force to reckon with in Rampur.
Another interesting fact is that Mahesh Verma contested Lok Sabha elections in 2009 against SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav's son Akhilesh and DP Yadav fought against Mulayam's nephew Dharmendra.