Several Muslim outfits to contest polls in UP – Times of India | Chase for Muslim votes begins in UP – The Times of India

Several Muslim outfits to contest polls in UP

16 Mar 2009, 1204 hrs IST, PTII

LUCKNOW: In an apparent bid to cash in on the Muslim vote bank, a number of outfits representing the community in Uttar Pradesh have decided to field candidates for the Lok Sabha polls.

Projecting them as the “real” well wishers of the minorities, these organizations have already announced their candidates.

Out of the 80 Lok Sabha constituencies, the population of Muslim voters is about 20 per cent in 17 of them, mostly in western Uttar Pradesh districts including Muzaffarnagar, Amroha and Moradabad.

In eastern Uttar Pradesh, the community plays a decisive role in constituencies of Azamgarh, Bahraich, Gonda, Srawasti, Varanasi and Duamariaganj.

Considering the fact, the Ulema Council, which came into existence after 26/11 Mumbai attacks, has announced to contest from more than a dozen Lok Sabha seats in the state including Congress strongholds Rae Bareli and Amethi.

The Council, which has its roots in Azamgarh and had first raised the issue of atrocities on “innocent Muslim youths” of the district by the police, is all set to make this its poll plank.

“Muslims will vote for our candidates. The community has realised that political parties are using them as a vote bank only,” Amir Rashadi Madani, coordinator of Ulema Council, had said recently.

Following its footsteps, another organisation Peace Party too has announced to contest Lok Sabha elections on 30 seats.

While the party plans to field Muslim candidates on 10 seats, it is still looking for non-Muslim candidates on remaining 20 seats.

“We have to take all castes together to make a mark in elections. Besides Muslims, we will also be fielding candidates of other castes too,” Peace Party leader Arshad said.

The Party too had organised a rally in the state capital to show its strength.

While the Council and Peace Party have decided to contest on their own, three others parties have forged an alliance -Milli Mahaj with a similar objective.

The alliance which was announced on February 23 comprises Muslim Majlis, Parcham Party and National Loktantrik Party. Mahaj, which has announced its candidate for Lucknow seat, while claiming that a few more like-minded organisations would join the alliance, said that it would declare its candidates on other seats soon.

Other than Muslims, the alliance is concentrating on mobilizing most backwards and Dalits in its favour, its leaders claim.

Another organisation All India Muslim Forum has also joined the bandwagon by announcing a candidate for Chandauli parliamentary constituency.

An old organisation of Muslims, Jamiat ul Ulema is on the verge of a split ahead of polls. While one section of the organisation is being commanded by Maulana Mehmood Madani, who is also a sitting MP of Rashtriya Lok Dal, another section is being headed by his uncle Maulana Arshad Madani.

Taking a lead, Arshad Madani organised an anti-terrorism convention in the state capital, where he shared the dais with UP Congress president Reeta Bahuguna Joshi.

However, it has not declared any candidates so far and is looking for options.

Unlike previous elections, when Muslim organisations had been concentrating mainly on the community votes, organisations, which are in fray this time are “disseminating” a message of unity and secularism among the community people.

For example Ulema Council has named a Hindu candidate Amrish Mishra from Lucknow parliamentary constituency.

Mishra, who is making a debut in the electoral politics, is a follower of a Ayodhya-based mahant.

Similarly, the Council has fielded two Dalits Sohan Ram and Chandra Ram Saroj from Machlishahar and Lalganj respectively.

Asked about the prospects of the Muslim outfit, All India Muslim Morcha President M A Siddiqi said “formation of outfits claiming themselves to be real well wishers of Muslims ahead of polls has become a routine practice in the state”.

“In the last assembly polls, United Democratic Front and Peoples Democratic Front were formed but they failed to make any impact in state politics,” he added.

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Chase for Muslim votes begins in UP

17 Mar 2009, 0301 hrs IST, Manjari Mishra, TNN

When Maulana Amir Rashdi Madni launched Ulema Council a couple of months ago, the move was dismissed as a bid by this firebrand maulana from Azamgarh to avenge the arrest of his son by Maharashtra ATS.

Talha Amir had been nabbed last December in connection with the Delhi blast. But Madni moved fast.

After striking a pact with Assam United Democratic Front, the council made its maiden appearance in Delhi last month.

The rally turned out to be more successful than what he had imagined.

Buoyed by the response, next he brought in two trainloads of supporters to Lucknow to register a protest against the Centre ‘for treating every Muslim boy as suspected ultra’.

The council, he announced, will pose a challenge to the state’s might in the coming election.

He proved it within days by fielding candidates in Amethi and Rae Bareli against Sonia Gandhi and Rahul.

Detractors call it an open admission of his clandestine understanding with the BSP.

However, pitching on the Nehru-Gandhi turf could only be the beginning.

The Maulana is preparing to make inroads in at least a dozen more Muslim-dominated seats in Purvanchal.

The Ulema Council has announced two candidates each from Jaunpur, Azamgarh.

One of them is Dr Javed, a local orthopaedic surgeon whose son was interrogated by the Delhi police after the September blasts.

Though the candidates aren’t known figures, Madni hopes the communal divide post the recent spate of terror strikes in Delhi and Mumbai will work in his favour, helping the council to notch up a respectable tally — specially in Azamgarh, Mau, Jaunpur and Gorakhpur belt.

However, in a symbolic show to press its secular credentials, the council has fielded a pundit — Ambrish Mishra — a practically unknown face from Lucknow constituency.

Madni is definitely an early bird.

With election in sight, more such standalone or rag-tag outfits are expected in UP.

At least two more such parties — Peace Party and Milli Mahaj, a patchwork coalition of Parcham Party, Loktantirk Party and Muslim Majlis, have already made their debut in the battleground.

This is after discounting Muslim League, the oldest outfit, which has not opened its account even in the civic body elections.

The chase for Muslim votes has a reason.

According to the official statistics, there are 22 districts in UP where the minority population is more than 20%.

Out of the 123 Muslim-dominated assembly constituencies listed with the Election Commission, this number is as high as 40-45% in Moradabad or 80% in Rampur.

So, it is not surprising to find new aspirants trying their luck though the activity on the front is rather low this time, experts point out.

Unlike the last time, when UPUDF and PDF had actually made the minority expectations soar high.

One had a minister in Mulayam Singh’s cabinet Haji Yaqoob Qureshi behind it while the other had the well-known Shia cleric Kalbe Jawwad.

Jawwad proved to be a short-distance runner and bowed out soon after the then chief minister Mulayam Singh Yadav doled out minority-friendly sops like a public holiday on the Prophet’s birthday.

Qureshi, who was using his lawyer brother Usuf Qureshi as a front, also struck a deal with the Samajwadi Party and UPUDF vanished from the scene right before the general elections.

Both the high-profile patrons are out of the race in poll 2009, replaced by smaller but seemingly persistent players.

So, while the fledgling parties are flexing their muscles, the antics have failed to have any impact on the targeted community.

Khalid Rasheed Firangimahali calls them mushrooming pre-poll phenomena. They come and go with elections, he said.

In any case, Muslims in India are too secular-minded to be led away by their claims and promises. This could be the reason they have always lent support to national parties than repose their faith in these seasonal players.

And this time, he prophesies, things will be no different.

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