RS: SP looks to benefit from MP Muslim votes

The Samajwadi Party, cornering majority of the Muslim votes has offered an olive branch to minority community in MP by nominating Munawwar Saleem.

Last Updated: Mar 23, 2012, 10:45 AM IST

Bhopal: The Samajwadi Party (SP) which humbled the Congress in recent Uttar Pradesh Assembly polls by cornering majority of the Muslim votes has offered an olive branch to the minority community in Madhya Pradesh by nominating Choudhary Munawwar Saleem of Vidisha to the Rajya Sabha from the neighbouring state.
"Certainly, it was courageous of SP President Mulayam
Singh Yadav, as by doing so he has made an effort to attract
the Muslim community towards it in Madhya Pradesh," senior
Congress leader and former Union Minister, Aslam Sher
Khan said.

"He could have easily accommodated any Muslim leader from
Uttar Pradesh in the Rajya Sabha, but by taking this step (of
nominating Saleem), the SP has made an effort to woo the
minority community towards it," Khan, who is also a former
hockey Olympian said.

When asked whether the decision of the Congress not to
send any Muslim candidate to the Rajya Sabha from Madhya
Pradesh has annoyed the community here, Khan said the
fundamental problem with the minority community here is that
it has no leadership in the state.

Secondly, Congress has to seriously think on an important
issue that earlier nearly 70 per cent Muslims voted for the
party but due to lack of any viable alternative. Now, this
percentage is declining to 40-45 per cent in the elections.

The Congress has to give more representation to the
community in the assembly elections, which normally votes
unblock for the party, to assuage its feelings and for ensuring
that the BJP won`t come to power for the third time in a row
in Madhya Pradesh.

However, the lone Muslim MLA from Congress in the Madhya
Pradesh Assembly, Arif Aqueel said the SP will hardly get any
benefit by this move as it has no foundation in the state.

Only those voters who have a 50:50 mind towards Congress
and BJP may go with the SP in the state.

To a question, whether BJP will get any benefit by nominating former deputy Chairman of the Rajya Sabha, Najma Heptullah to the Upper House from Madhya Pradesh, Aqueel asked, "What BJP has done for the community..? Has it implemented the Sachhar panel report or appointed any educated person in the Madarsa Board..?"

"You cannot get the votes of the community merely by
wearing caps," Aqueel said in an apparent reference to the BJP
leaders visiting the community during festivals to appease
them.

"In fact, there is a strong resentment in the Muslim
community and these days people are raising a demand in their
circle to protect their daughters and daughter-in-laws from
BJP leaders," he said in an apparent reference to reports of
alleged involvement of a saffron party MLA with the community
women in connection with the RTI activist Shehla Masood`s
murder case.

However, Madhya Pradesh BJP`s Minority Cell President,
Hidayatullah Shiekh said that it is not just with the
nomination of Heptullah that the minority community`s interest
in the BJP has considerably rose since the Chief Minister,
Shivraj Singh Chouhan came to power.

The rising percentage of Muslim votes in the three
by polls Kukshi, Sonkatch and Jabera that BJP wrested
from Congress is an example of it, the BJP leader said.

The SP leader (Saleem) has been associated with the party
since it was active in Madhya Pradesh. Hailing from Vidisha,
Saleem has been close to the SP`s Muslim face, Mohammed Azam
Khan, the party sources said.

Even in the recently held Assembly elections in Uttar
Pradesh, he remained active in the neighbouring state and
worked extensively for the party.

PTI