The lowest ever representation of the Muslims in the state assembly has shocked Muslims in the most populous state of Uttar Pradesh. The BJP has conquered the citadels of Congress, the BSP and Samajwadi Party across the state.
From Moradabad district to Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Aligarh, Sambhal, Bareilly to Gonda, Behraich, Basti and Siddharth nagar, besides other places with substantial number of Muslims, BJP did exceedingly well.
There were only a few exceptions who won due to their own performance in their constituencies. Azam Khan, one of the top cabinet ministers in the outgoing Akhilesh Yadav government, won his seat from Rampur for a record ninth time.
He also ensured the victory of his son Abdullah Azam Khan from the neighboring constituency of Suwar. Both the father-son duo won with a massive margin of around fifty thousand votes each.
In the massive victory of his son, the new ‘nawab’ of Rampur destroyed the former Ruhela nawabs’ prestige as the sitting MLA from the Suwar Tanda assembly constituency, Nawab Kazim Ali Khan, was decimated. The young Abdullah Azam, who, many said hadn’t come of age as yet, beat the son of former MPs Mikki Mian and Begum Noor Bano by a huge margin of 52,000 votes.
This year only 25 Muslims have been elected to the state assembly, their lowest ever tally in the state, where they form around 20 percent of the population.
This has certainly unnerved the Muslims in the state. They are dumbfounded by the outcome of the UP election results. Many of them were made to believe that the representation of the Muslims was going to break previous record given the fact that Mayawati’s BSP had given more than 100 tickets to Muslim candidates while the SP - Congress alliance had also put up Muslim candidates from close to 90 constituencies.
But this didn’t happen. On the contrary, Muslim representation came crashing down to 25 MLAs, most of whom were elected on Samajwadi Party ticket, followed closely by the BSP.
It is a common refrain, following the electoral debacle for the so-called secular forces in the state, that Asaduddin Owaisi, the firebrand Hyderabad MP’s AIMIM didn’t impact the outcome of the state election. While it may be true, as both, Dr Ayyub led Peace Party and Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM could get no more than 0.3 and 0.2 percent of the votes polled in the state respectively, they did far worse thing.
The rabble rousing manner of the MP from Hyderabad and his younger brother may be suited to Hyderabad, Deccan, but it is certainly a recipe of disaster in north India. AIMIM, wherever goes, increases the communal divide and helps BJP to consolidate Hindu voters behind it. The fiery speeches of Owaisi may not translated in votes in Uttar Pradesh, but Hyderabad like rhetoric in the Gangatic plains of Western and Central UP certainly help others turn it in their favor.
While it might have not won a single seat, though it was second placed in Muslim town of Sambha, it is being naïve to believe that Owaisi’s party and other such projects didn’t impact the chances of secular parties. Dig a little deeper and analyze the cost of the polarization for the community that it created in areas wherever its fiery speakers spoke of Muslim dominance and us vs them. While Muslims condemn communal politics of others, many in the community seem to love its own versions of communal politics and thus the huge turnouts in his rallies.
The myth of Muslim vote bank
The latest election in the most populous state of the country has certainly destroyed the myth of Muslim vote bank. Many people are claiming that Muslim votes got divided and thus it may be one of the causes of SP, BSP doing so badly. But you cannot expect 4 crore people of a community to put all its eggs in a single basket.
Muslims are certainly neither responsible nor capable to carry the entire burden of keeping secularism alive in the country. The responsibility for secular parties’ loss rests with their timid leadership that couldn’t foresee the storm that was building against it. Akhilesh Yadav led Samajwadi Party tried to brush anti-incumbency under the carpet.
But the fact that his’ was an inept and corrupt government that thrived on lawlessness and corruption cannot be forgotten so easily.
It is not the loss for Muslims
The defeat of secular parties was certainly not a loss for Muslims, though from outset it seems, and many people are trying to project this aspect of the election alone. It is bigger loss for Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav/ Mulayam Singh Yadav. They have been decimated.
These are the politicians who thrived on Muslim votes, without making them partners in progress and development. A few of their comrades certainly benefited, but they will benefit and prosper irrespective of the government in power in Lucknow and Delhi. Now these politicians need to take stock of the situation. They should realize that they can fool the voters once or a few times, but not all the time.
Good vibes from the BJP
An important aspect that shouldn’t be ignored, and should be welcomed by the Muslim community is the reassurance from Prime Minister Narendra Modi and the BJP leadership in the aftermath of the electoral success. Prime Minister felt very magnanimous in his landmark speech following the massive win in Uttar Pradesh.
Union Minister and former BJP president Venkaiah Naidu went on to assure the community that it will not be kept out of power and will be part of the government in the state. It is something that must be positively responded by the community in the state and outside.
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Syed Ubaidur Rahman is a New Delhi based writer and commentator. He has written several books on Muslims and Islam in India including Understanding Muslim Leadership in India.