In the race of getting power in Uttar Pradesh, all political parties are busy calculating caste and creed factors to reach the magic figure. The political parties, excluding the BJP, are fully convinced that the Muslim community would be a deciding factor for gaining hold on the UP assembly. Given the importance of Muslim supports, the ruling BSP has almost sidelined its social engineering and fielded 85 Muslim candidates this time by shrinking the quota for upper cast candidates, against 61 in the previous assembly polls in 2007. Growing importance of the minority community is not confined only to the ruling BSP. Main opposition party Samajwadi Party (SP) has fielded 84 Muslim candidates this time as compared to 57 Muslim candidates last time in 2007. The Congress has so far declared 354 candidates out of 403 assembly seats. It has allotted 61 seats to the Muslims so far as compared to 56 seats in the last assembly elections. The Congress’ alliance partner Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) has also earmarked seven seats for the Muslims out of 35 party candidates declared so far.

Congress’ threat: Congress’ outstanding performance in 2009 Lok Sabha polls has largely scared the two prominent stake holders of Uttar Pradesh politics- ruling BSP and SP. Stunning all poll pundits in 2009 general elections, the Congress had bagged 21 Lok Sabha seats on its own in the state. This was made possible owing to support of its traditional vote bank- Muslims, Dalits and Brahmins. This performance has rekindled a sense of confidence in the Congress camp and the party is hopeful of returning back to power after over two decades. The Ruling BSP and SP are highly concerned due to growing influence of the Congress among Muslims, Dalits and Brahmins and consider it as a threat for their own existence. The 2009 Lok Sabha results revealed that the Congress is no longer untouchable for Muslims. Following announcement of sub-quota for Muslims within the quota for OBC casts, it is believed that the Congress’ influence among Muslims is bound to scale up. Moreover, Congress’ alliance with RLD is also a matter of serious concern for ruling BSP in Western Uttar Pradesh.

Muslim vote decisive in 100-125 constituencies: Muslims comprise 17-18 percent of the total population of Uttar Pradesh. There are 100-125 seats out of 403 seats in Uttar Pradesh where Muslims are considered to be in a decisive factor. Prior to the emergence of Ram Janmabhumi and Mandal Commission as prominent political issues in north India, Muslims were considered as a traditional vote bank of the Congress party. But the community held the Congress largely responsible for the demolition of Babri Mosque on December 6, 1992 and the disgruntled Community parted its way with Congress. The community’s disenchantment with the Congress didn’t allow the party to increase its tally even up to 30 seats from 1993 to 2007 in state assembly elections. Interestingly, in 2007 assembly polls, its 323 candidates out of 393 lost even their deposits.

Mulayam emerged as a hero for Muslims: Owing to his frank pro-Muslim stand, Mulayam Singh Yadav, SP chief, emerged as a hero among Muslim community. In 1993 and 1996 assembly elections, Mulayam Singh and his Samajwadi Party was the only choice of the Muslims. But in 2002 and 2007 assembly polls, the BSP made inroads in the Muslim vote bank. The Muslims voted the candidates of either SP or BSP, which made the BJP candidates bear the brunt. But 2009 Lok Sabha result has injected a sense of hope in the Congress party.

BJP too wooing Muslim voters: BJP leadership is quite aware of the fact that Muslim voters will hardly throw their weights behind the party. Even though, the BJP has allotted a ticket to a Muslim candidate and has also planned to assign party’s prominent Muslim leaders to attend public meetings in the Muslim dominated areas. The BJP has realized that the Muslim voters are not willing to support the party. In a bid to lessen its damage, the BJP is working to make a strategy for quenching the anger of Muslims.

(Agencies)