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UP polls: BSP goes all out to woo Muslims, gets backing of clerics

News Agencies | Updated on: 12 February 2017, 11:49 IST

Failing to revive its tested "social engineering" formula which saw it victorious in the 2007 Uttar Pradesh polls, BSP is going all out to woo Muslims through various clerics and organisations for regaining power.

In 2007, BSP had notched up the magic mark all by itself riding on social engineering which helped it garner support of other sections of society as well besides its core vote bank among the Dalits.

This time, however, in the wake of a stiff challenge posed by SP-Congress alliance, which has presented a viable alternative both to Muslims and backwards, and BJP which is banking on polarisation to gain support of Hindus, especially upper castes, BSP has come up with the plan to get Muslim leadership and clergy to extend support to woo minorities.

In the past couple of days, BSP leadership has been successful in roping in Rashtriya Ulema Council led by Maulana Aamir Rashadi Madani, Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Maulana Ahmed Bukhari, noted Shia cleric and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board Maulana Kalbe Jawwad and Ulema and Mashiakh Board of Maulana Syed Mohammad Ashraf Kichachauvi as well as AMU Students Union to extend support for sending a message among the Muslims.

BSP chief Mayawati has been concertedly telling the minorities that voting for the SP-Congress alliance will go in vain and it will willy-nilly help BJP.

"BSP is the only viable alternative before Muslims as it alone can check BJP... SP is a divided house and both Akhilesh and Shivpal factions will harm each other in the polls and so voting for the SP-Congress alliance will only help BJP," has been her refrain during her campaign.

But since Muslims have a pattern of voting for the party which is strongest to defeat BJP, SP-Congress alliance has given hope to them much to the discomfiture of BSP.

After having fielded 99 Muslim candidates a record high for the party and basing its gameplan to a large extent on the Dalit-Muslim plank, BSP does not want to leave anything to chance and so it has been working overtime to win over Muslim leaders and clerics, analysts say.

Rashtriya Ulema Council had fielded 84 candidates for the polls, but withdrew them after extending support to BSP saying there was need to work together with it to defeat fascist forces.

Stressing that there had been continued atrocities on Muslims in the past five years, Jawwad appealed to Muslims to vote for BSP, describing it as the best option available before them under the prevailing circumstances.

Shahi Imam Bukhari, who has a record in extending support to political parties at poll time, has this time extended support to BSP.

"Muslims should look for a political alternative in UP and show exit route to the unjust SP that has gone back on its word," he said while declaring support to BSP.

Stressing that Muslims bore the brunt of deprivation, injustice and unemployment, Bukhari blamed the SP for some 400 bloody riots and failure to fulfil promises like reservation, implementation of Sachar Committee report, setting free innocent Muslim youth framed in terror charges and recruitment of Muslims in security forces.

The AMU Students' Union issued a statement expressing solidarity with BSP, while Ashraf Kichachauvi group too spoke in favour of Mayawati's party.

Realising shortage of Muslim faces in the party, BSP has been taking the help of new entrant Afzal Ansari, who merged his Quami Ekta Dal with BSP after being spurned by Samajwadi Party.

BSP national general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui has said his party will be using Madani for campaigning.

The dearth of Muslim leaders is a problem for the party.

Among the list of 40 star campaigners there are just three leaders from the community - Siddiqui, also the west UP in-charge; his son Afzal, and party coordinator for Aligarh and Agra divisions Shamsuddin Raeen.

BSP Rajya Sabha MP Munquad Ali, who hails from Meerut and was the party's in-charge for west UP till 2014, has not been named as star campaigner in the region.

He is believed to have confined himself to Allahabad, Varanasi and Mirzapur divisions in eastern UP, where he is the party's zonal coordinator.

According to election analysts, only 20 per cent Muslims voted for BSP in the 2012 Assembly elections.


First published: 12 February 2017, 11:47 IST