UP witnessing unprecedented war over Muslim vote

With stakes high in the Assembly elections, the Muslim vote is being wooed like never before in UP.

New Delhi: With stakes high in the Assembly
elections, the Muslim vote is being wooed like never before in
Uttar Pradesh where Rahul Gandhi has also joined the race for
quota politics.

A virtually no-holds-barred battle has erupted between
the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP to garner
maximum vote of the minority community, which constitutes some
18 per cent of the 20 crore population.

More players, like Peace Party and Ulema Council, have
emerged on the state`s political scene in a significant way to
claim a share of the Muslim pie.

BJP, which has always opposed the religion-based
reservation, has been utilizing the race among its opponents
to fuel anger among the backwards projecting that the
sub-quota for minorities would cut into their share.

Ironically, the tussle over the sub-quota has been
started by Congress, which had gone into political wilderness
in the state decades ago, in the wake of the Mandal and Mandir

Political observers note that the demolition of the Babri
Masjid on December 6,1992, also added to the miseries of the

While Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, one of the
prominent Congress leaders from UP, has himself spoken of
plans for a nine per cent reservation for backward Muslims in
the state and the AICC has remained firmly behind him.

The Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav in its
manifesto has attempted to be one up by promising job
reservation to the Muslims on the basis of population-which
comes to 18 per cent. The party manifesto is silent on the

The SP manifesto also promises to implement all
recommendations of the Sachar commission, which went into the
sorry plight of Muslims in the country.

Battling hard to retain power, Chief Minister Mayawati
has sought to hold on to the Muslim support by writing to
Prime Minister Manmohan Singh sometime back for taking a
"positive" initiative for introducing quota system in
educational institutes and government jobs for minorities.

In another letter to the Prime Minister, she has demanded
reservation for Muslims on the basis of their population.
Mayawati`s social engineering in the last Assembly elections
has led to her victory which is seen as a defining moment in
Indian politics.

While the Congress Manifesto is expected to be made
public in a few days, the party`s "Vision Document 2020" for
Uttar Pradesh speaks of plans to provide reservation to
backward Muslims as per their population.

A Congress leader belonging to the minority community
aptly remarked that what the Congress was attempting was to
win back its constituency which had gone to leaders like
Mulayam Singh and Mayawati.

The Congress move on quota politics has come at a time
when the last Lok Sabha polls had witnessed Yadav, priding
over his hold on the "MY" (Muslim+Yadav) combination, suffered
erosion in the minority base after making common cause with
Kalyan Singh.

Singh was the BJP Chief Minister when the Babri Masjid
was demolished.

Samajwadi Party has also promised job reservation on
basis of population ratio which means 18-19 per cent in Uttar

The state already has 21 per cent reservation for
Scheduled Castes, 2 per cent for Scheduled Tribes and 27 per
cent for OBCs.

With the Supreme Court cap of 50 per cent on reservation,
it is not clear how reservation to 18 per cent Muslims in UP
"in proportion to their population" will be provided.


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