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12 August 2013

Mining vote bank

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After Congress & BSP took the lead in supporting Muslims of Kadalpur, SP suspended the IAS officer to show it was the only saviour of the minorities.

By Iftikhar Gilani

New Delhi: A race among parties to woo minority votes in the run up to the general elections led to the suspension of IAS officer Durga Shakti Nagpal. With political stakes running high, the ruling SP took the extreme step of punishing the officer, after local Congress and BSP leaders took the lead in supporting Muslims of Kadalpur village in Greater Noida, who were protesting the demolition of the wall of a mosque allegedly on the orders of Nagpal.

A senior SP leader alleged that it was actually a Congress leader Devinder Singh, who first reached the spot and attempted to incite the crowd. He was soon followed by BSP’s local MP Surinder Singh Nagar.

Fearing that the party would draw flak from Muslim groups for failing to keep up its promises, SP’s prospective candidate from Gautam Buddh Nagar, Narendra Bhatti, called up party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav on the night of July 29, seeking action against the officer, to steal the limelight. Party functionaries say the publicity blitzkrieg was helping them to consolidate their vote bank by appearing as saviours of Muslims.

Advocate Mohammad Shoab, who is spearheading a ‘dharna’ in Lucknow demanding release of Muslim youth from jails, says it was a ploy by the SP to divert attention from real issues.

Sources in the SP told dna that Akhilesh Yadav had initially resisted taking strict action against the IAS officer. But he was forced to relent and a midnight order was issued by the appointment secretary, followed by a charge sheet on Sunday.

Bhatti, a powerful Gujjar face of the SP in the region, where the party is almost non-existent, has been patronised by Mulayam’s younger brother Shivpal Yadav.

According to party insiders, the clan’s other Yadav, a suave and polite Ram Gopal, had also backed Akhilesh. However, they were made to fall in line by Mulayam, who, sources said, found it an ideal issue to show he was the only saviour for the Muslims.

Over the past year, the SP has been finding it hard to keep the Muslim votes under its wings. Last May, Delhi Jama Masjid Imam Syed Ahmed Bukhari snapped ties with the party, following an ante by Rihai Manch over release of Muslim youth. Mulayam was also heckled at a convention of the Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind on the government’s failure to curb recurring communal riots.

Though the state government has allocated Rs 500 crore for repair, renovation and upkeep of Muslim graveyards, the community feels betrayed owing to the SP’s failure to fulfill its election promise of ensuring 18 per cent reservation for the community as well as its failure to implement the central government’s multi-sectoral area development programme in its 25 Muslim concentration districts.

Meanwhile, union minister of state in the PMO and personnel V Narayanasamy met Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav on Tuesday over the suspension of the IAS officer. Mulayam reportedly assured him that the suspension would be revoked after receiving a reply from her.

Muslims groups, however, are also angry with the media for ignoring the voices of villagers, while pitching the case of Nagpal. “The alert-as-ever 24x7 media never bothered to go and talk to the villages whose mosque was demolished. This is a basic duty of media and was not difficult either as the village Kadalpur is situated in Noida, within a stone’s throw from Delhi,” said Dr Zafarul Islam Khan, president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mashawarat, a compendium of all Muslims religious and social groups.

Questioning the theory that the mosque was being constructed without permission, Dr Khan asked under which law permission was necessary to constructing any building in a village, leave alone a mosque. “The BJP government in the year 2000 tried to sneak in a law to make a prior permission from the local administration obligatory before building a place of worship, but failed,” he said.

(Courtesy: DNA)

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