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UP Polls 2012: Congress Party and BJP trying to benefit each other

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By H.R. Ahmad


With both Congress Party and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) appearing to be indulging in mud-slinging at each other in UP which is nothing but shadow-boxing, they are, in fact, trying to benefit each other.


The Congress Party has offered a 'catchy' issue to the BJP on platter and the latter is going all out to cash on it.


Congress announced 4.5 percent quota for Muslims in government jobs under a well-calculated strategy to benefit the BJP electorally. And the BJP at once made it an election issue and started opposing the decision tooth and nail at different levels. Having grown wiser and politically more conscious than before, Muslims in Uttar Pradesh (UP) have begun to question Congress' intention behind anouncing job quota for them just ahead of UP elections.


Pic Courtesy: The Hindu
Its Muslim face Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi termed this hurriedly-taken Congress decision as anti-backward as well as an encroachment on the rights of the OBCs. The BJP, on the other hand, is trying its level best to woo the OBCs by projecting Congress as anti-OBCs and thereby causing polarization along communal line. Mulayam Singh added grist to BJP's mill by playing the Bukhari card. Congress, on the other hand, is going all out to cut into Muslim votes to facilitate the win of the BJP in the constituencies where Samajwadi Party (SP) or Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) appears to be in somewhat better position, but Congress is likely to get Muslim support only in those constituencies where it can defeat the BJP. Muslims, as political observers feel, have not been able to forget the pangs and anguish caused by the demolition of Babri Masjid at a time when the congress itself was in power at the Centre. Emboldened by opinion poll, Mr. Singh is leaving no stone unturned to mop up maximum Muslim votes. Muslims, if psephologists and political analysts are to be believed, will vote tactically this time too as they did in the last UP assembly elections. It implies that they will vote for the candidate that can defeat the BJP.


Breft of an effective poll plank other than corruption in which the party itself is steeped neck-deep, BJP perforce raked up emotive issue of Masjid-Mandir which,by all accounts, has lost its relevance in the face of development which the Congress is trying to sell through Rahul Gandhi.


The dilemma the BJP is facing in UP at the moment is that it is a divided house. It had decided to rope in Gujrat chief minister Narendra Modi in UP for campaigning, but he has so far stayed away from it because he is peeved at Sanjay Joshi being taken into the party despite his vehement opposition and then made UP poll in-charge by president Nitin Gadkari. However, according to latest reports Narendra Modi has given his nod to finally campaign in UP elections, but it still remains to be seen whether he will actually campaign or not.


Gadkari has tried to make the two political heavyweights, Narendra Modi and Varun Gandhi realise their worth by setting aside their suggestions. He also outright rejected latter's suggestion to project him as party's chief ministerial candidate. Consequently, not only Varun but also his mother, Maneka Gandhi are keeping away from poll campaign in UP.


Bihar chief minister Nitish Kumar also seems to be hell-bent on queering the pitch for the BJP in the UP poll. Both JD(U) and BJP are pulling in different directions as they have no seat-sharing adjustment in UP. In this way, there is nothing hunky-dory for the BJP in Uttar Pradash. The poor performance of the paty in the poll, as is expected, may impact the relations between the two parties in Bihar further.


Congress general secretary and star campaigner, Rahul Gandhi is struggling hard to win over Muslims and Dalits. As the campaign is picking up, it is getting increasingly clear that Rahul's night stay in a Dalit ghetto has failed to cut much ice with Dalits who seem to have already made their mind to throw their vote behind the BSP as they regard Bahenji as their sole messiah. SP may walk away with Yadavs and majority of Muslim votes. This is the reason why there is a neck-and-neck fight between these two parties in UP.


The two national parties, BJP and Congress are, however, likey to play the role of a king-maker.


[H. R. Ahmad is a Journalist based in Bihar. He is a Press Correspondent with Hindustan Times. He is also associated with IndianMuslimObserver.com as Bureau Chief (Bihar). He can be contacted at hafizruknuddin@gmail.com]
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