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SP a clear winner in fight for Muslim votes

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By Manoj C G


In the all-out battle between the SP and the Congress to corner the crucial Muslim votes in UP, Mulayam Singh Yadav has emerged the clear winner.


Although it is not possible to conclusively determine where the majority of Muslim votes have been cast, a clear trend emerges when one looks at the numbers in the 21 minority concentrated districts — identified as those where at least 25 per cent of the population comprises minorities — of the state which account for 133 seats.


The SP has a clear edge over all other parties as it cornered 65 out of this 133. The Congress finished with just 10. Significantly, it was not the SP alone which found success in minority-concentrated districts. The BSP bagged 30, while the BJP got 22 and the RLD three. These seats can be an indicator of the Muslim voting pattern.


For instance, the Congress had won the Moradabad LS seat in 2009. On Tuesday, it did not win even a single Assembly segment under it. Seven went to the SP, while the BJP and the Peace Party won one each.


In Bareilly — another seat represented by the Congress in LS — the SP and the BJP won three seats each, the BSP two and the All India Ittehad-e-Millat Council one.


In Siddharthnagar, the SP won three, BJP one and the Peace Party one.


In Barabanki, represented by P L Punia, the SP won six out of the seven segments.


Although they failed to make big gains, belying popular perception and their own expectations, a clutch of Muslim parties too cornered the Muslim votes. The Peace Party won four seats, while Mukhtar Ansari’s Quami Ekta Dal bagged two seats and the All India Ittehad-e-Millat Council one seat.


So why did the Muslims vote the way they did despite the fact that there was no communal polarisation or the fear factor in the absence of an aggressive Hindutva campaign by the BJP?
Leaders and political observers believe the Congress’s last-minute quota politics backfired as the Muslims saw through its poll intentions and put a question mark on its credibility and seriousness regarding minority welfare. The shadow of Batla House encounter lingered while there was an underlying urge to oust the Mayawati government, which they felt worked with a pronounced Dalit agenda.


Against this backdrop, they felt only the SP was the credible alternative to Mayawati.
“It is early to make an assessment. But it seems the bulk of the Muslims votes went to the SP. Muslims, like other groups, notably the upper castes, were clearly keen to oust Mayawati from power. The Muslims voted for the SP because it was the only viable alternative,” academic and a political scientist Zoya Hassan told The Indian Express.


(Courtesy: The Indian Express)
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