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Published On:13 January 2012
Posted by Indian Muslim Observer

UP Elections: Congress Party has made a beginning on Muslim quota

By Mohammad Shahid Parvez

Lucknow: With the Election Commission declaring a seven-phase election to the Uttar Pradesh Assembly starting in February battle lines are drawn among political players to capture power in the biggest state of the country. Parties, big and small, are using everything in their armour to establish their supremacy over rivals in the battle of ballots. As caste and communities play important role in deciding the fate of candidates in this part of the country parties are deciding their strategies accordingly. Since major castes like Dalits , Yadavas and Brahmins are considered the vote bank of one or the other party only Muslims, who form about 20 per cent of the total electorate in the state, can tilt the balance in favour of the party they decide to vote. Naturally all parties, specially the three major ones—SP, BSP and Congress are using all resources at their disposal to win over the community.

But the Congress has taken a lead in this direction. First by announcing a six- thousand crore package for weavers and then 4.5 per cent quota for minorities in the ambit of 27 per cent reservation for the backward classes the party has not only fulfilled its promise made in its election manifesto of 2009 but has also put its rivals in a dilemma. Thus while the SP and BSP reacted cautiously to the Centre’s decision, the BJP is furious and threatening to go to the court. However, Muslims feel that the 4.5 per cent quota, much below the Ranganath Commission recommendation of a minimum 8 per cent, is not enough to ward off the backwardness of the community. They want the backward castes in the community should be treated at par with their counterparts in Hindu community and given the status of the scheduled castes. They argue that the 1950 presidential order according to Scheduled caste status to some backward castes only if they were Hindus but denying the same status to the same castes belonging to Muslim and Christian communities is discriminatory and against the spirit of the Constitution.

There is no denying the fact that the Muslims have been discriminated against in free India so much so that once the ruling community before the British rule, the community today has become the most backward today. The so called secular parties have used them as vote bank to their own benefits and the successive governments denied them their due. Apart from the Congress, even the SP and BSP, the two claimants of Muslim votes in the poll-bound UP have done precious little for the community during their tenures.

The BSP which ruled the state for the last five years with absolute majority did nothing for the community except writing letters to the Centre. She gave an Urdu-Persian University to the community but did not find a Muslim leader or an Urdu or Persian scholar to name the University after him. The BSP government did not even care to solve as small an issue as the Muallime Urdu certificate holders perhaps because it thinks that Naseemuddin Siddiqui will fetch Muslim votes for the party. Similarly the Samajwadi Party which ruled the state with the support of Muslims did nothing to solve problems faced by the community. Instead it allied with Kalyan Singh, a convict in the Babri masjid demolition case to rub salt on the Muslim wound. Even Azam Khan, the Muslim face of the party, who always ensured that no other Muslim leader could emerge to become his rival in the party left it feeling suffocated.

The Congress move to give 4.5 per cent quota to minorities on the eve of elections is clearly aimed at softening the stand of community which had deserted the party in the wake of demolition of Babri masjid leading to its rout from the state. But the party’s hopes to secure the community votes were revived after 2009 parliamentary elections when annoyed with Mulayam-Kalyan tie-up, a section of Muslims voted for it. The Congress’ move may or may not succeed in breaking the ice but the question that arises is for how long the Muslims will allow themselves to be treated as vote bank by the so called secular parties? We should not forget that the contemporary Indian politics has fallen to such a low as every party is ready to do anything-fair or foul- if it only ensures its success. In this scenario only the community or group succeeds that puts it demands unitedly and forcefully. The 4.5 per cent quota is inadequate by all standards. But who is responsible for it? Not the bickering in our ranks? This percentage can go up only if we realise the strength of unity. For now by giving 4.5 per cent quota, even if with an eye on elections, the Congress has made a beginning.

[Mohammad Shahid Parvez is former News Editor, National Herald, Lucknow. He is associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Uttar Pradesh). He can be contacted at mshahidparvez@gmail.com]

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Posted by Indian Muslim Observer on January 13, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Feel free to leave a response

By Indian Muslim Observer on January 13, 2012. Filed under , , , , , . Follow any responses to the RSS 2.0. Leave a response

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