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Polls 2012: In UP, education & employment is the Muslim mantra

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By Iftikhar Gilani


Aligarh: Amidst the heightened election frenzy, teachers and students at Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) are fiercely debating the voting pattern and strategies. The only agreement is on the need to bury emotive issues and focus on the mantra of employment and education. But, there are others raising the pitch against security agencies allegedly booking Muslim youth in terror-related crimes.


Khaleeq Ahmed, a student at AMU, summarises how the Congress is still not in sync with the reality of the Muslim psyche.


“The problem with the Congress is that it still lives in the era of Ayodhya and Ram Mandir. It still thinks Muslims are in a state of victimhood. It fails to understand that the bigger issue for the Muslim electorate is unemployment,” says the student, while, however, backing the Congress to return to power in the state. In a way, he believes the current elections could be a watershed, to turn focus from emotive issues to development.


Prof Abdul Wahid, director of Centre for Promotion of Educational and Cultural Advancement of Muslims in India (CEPECAM) at AMU, agrees with Khaleeq, pointing out that over the years education and employment have taken precedence over other issues.


Others, however, are at pains to explain that the government agencies did not allow Muslims to come out of the yolk of insecurity. As AMU Teacher Association president Prof. Abdul Qayoom put it: “Why no judicial commission for Batla House encounter? Earlier it was communal riots, now it is a concerted effort to book Muslims in terror related crimes in areas where Muslims have excelled economically and education wise, be it Malegaon, Hyderabad, Azamgarh or Darbhanga. Muslims now want to focus on education, but they are increasingly being harassed and booked in terrorist related crimes forced to return to shell.”


He recalls that the Samajwadi Party government under Mulayam Singh Yadav had remained cautious and not allowed the police to harass Muslim youth. The phenomena increased when Brij Lal became police chief and Mayawati continued to shield him.


Doles to the weavers who are mostly the poor Muslims notwithstanding, the Congress feels handicapped not having groomed any backward Muslim face.


Prof Wahid maintains that Muslims are not a homogeneous community. They are internally divided into ‘status groups’ called biradaris. He has a word of caution for the Congress. “If the Congress wants Muslim vote, it needs to develop ground level activists, rather imposing leadership. The current Muslim leadership in the party is not even in a position to win election,” he says, pointing out that after the death of Zia-ur-Rahman Ansari, the party has failed to cultivate any Muslim leader amongst the lower strata.


Prof Mohammad Zahid, a Congress leader, however, says his party has realised its mistakes and is trying to rectify. “The Congress has now fully realised that the road to Delhi goes through Lucknow and it will remain in wilderness till the Muslims return to its fold. The Muslims trust the Congress as the only party capable of forming the government at the Centre and confront the BJP at the national level,” he claims.


In the caste-ridden society, Prof Zahid predicts that voting will be decided by personal choice and the clout of the candidates. “We hope the Congress will improve. It is not Narasimha Rao’s Congress. Now if Muslims demand rebuilding of the Babri Masjid, that is not possible,” he says.
Prof Ali Naqvi, head of the Department of Shia Theology, complains that Muslims have not yet learned lessons to behave like a minority. They still harbour complex of majority psychology as they believe they have ruled for over 1,000 years. “All over the world minorities don’t seek political empowerment but concentrate strategically on education, economic development and media to make their voices heard. Here, Muslims are obsessed with politics. This is root of the problem.”


He recommends a BSP model, where Muslims form a core and seek alignments with other parties. In Deoband, local Muslim Majlis candidate Badr Kazmi rejects the view. “Has any Hindu ever voted for a Muslim candidate?” he asks. Referring to the last elections, he says SP stalwart (now in Congress) Rashid Masood was defeated in last elections as even upper caste Hindus rooted for the BSP.


(Courtesy: DNA, Mumbai)
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1 comments:

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