Their silence this time is deafening and even confusing. Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh remain silent even as the political cauldron overflows with voting bank politics.
Talk to any Muslim on the street and the answer on the political outlook is straightforward and even ambiguous.
Fearing religious polarization, most political parties do not talk about the Muslim factor either, and Muslims themselves prefer to remain low-key as they are aware that any question of “appeasement” may in fact prove detrimental to their interests. .
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When Yogi Adityanath took the reins of power in Uttar Pradesh in 2017, he shattered the perception that Muslims could create or ruin a government in the state. He chose a wider Hindu mobilization to relegate Muslims to the background. He pursued policies that have not served Muslims, including a ban on the slaughter of cows and restrictions on the use of loudspeakers for “azaan,” to name a few.
The ban on triple talaq has angered men who believe it is an intrusion into Sharia law. The women, although happy, feel that the law has not served its purpose.
“How can we go after men on this issue without having financial independence? If we depend on the family for ourselves and our children, we cannot go against them,” said Shaheen, a youth. graduate.
“Attacks” against Muslims on issues such as transporting meat have increased, anti-CAA protests and the “Love Jihad” law have opened a door to “harassment” of Muslim youth (in relations interfaith).
In short, Yogi Adityanath put the 20 percent of Muslims on the “defensive” and proved that power can be achieved and retained without the minority community.
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His recent remark on “80 percent versus 20 percent” proves it.
“Muslims were made to feel like second class citizens in Yogi’s regime. He labeled the whole community under one label – anti-national – and that’s what hurts us. never opposed if someone is punished for doing wrong but you can’t call the whole community a criminal. Over the past five years, everyone seems to have turned into a right-wing police force and all you’ve got need to denigrate Muslims without being reserved is a saffron ‘gamcha‘”said a senior faculty member at Shia Degree College in Lucknow.
The huge number of followers that Yogi Adityanath has amassed among Hindus, crossing caste boundaries, has also made non-BJP parties cautious on the Muslim issue. “We know the BJP is waiting for us to say a word about Muslims and then they will do everything possible to polarize the election along religious lines,” a congressional spokesperson said.
According to sources, the parties this time will not take the risk of lining up too many Muslims for this reason.
The representation of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh has historically fluctuated. The rise of socialist parties in the 1970s and 1980s and the decline of Congress saw the first increase after independence in Muslim representation in the Vidhan Sabha, from 6.6% in 1967 to 12% in 1985.
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The first increase in BJP in the state in the late 1980s reduced that percentage to 5.5% in 1991.
The overall turnout of Muslims in elections as candidates also declined over the same period.
The second phase of growth in representation began after 1991 and peaked in 2012, when Muslim candidates won 17% of seats in the assembly, for the first time reaching a near-demographic proportion. The Uttarakhand sculpture in 2000 also helped to increase the representation percentage of Muslims in Uttar Pradesh.
The outright victory of the BJP in 2017 reversed this trend to 1991 levels: 23 Muslims were elected, up from 68 in previous polls.
This reflects the marginalization of the community in policy making. “It’s not just about numbers, the declining representation of the community also means that it has virtually no role in policymaking, which doesn’t bode well for nearly a year. fifth of the state’s population, ”said Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangi Mahali, Member, Muslim People’s Law Council across India.
As the electoral process begins, Muslims in Uttar Pradesh do not want to make any “mistakes” that would lead to a split in their votes.
How the community will ensure that their votes are not split is not clear to them at this point as well. “Defeating the BJP is a major factor, although other factors are also important, such as the candidate, the party, the dynamics at the village level and the local rivalries”, said a senior religious official of Darul Uloom Deoband, adding that “all Muslims voted for a strong party, the BJP would not have come to power in 2017”.
“The Yogi government has targeted Muslims like never before. From Azam Khan to Mukhtar Ansari, the government has shown unprecedented zeal to bring them down. requested anonymity.
Mohd Azam Khan may have been an unpopular figure due to his abrupt behavior, but the 86+ cases slapped on him by the Yogi government and the two years he spent in prison have won him sympathy. in his community.
Likewise, the measures taken against the mobster and politician Mukhtar Ansari, who has a likeness of Robinhood in the community, also shocked Muslims.
“During these five years, the government has repeatedly released images of its bulldozed properties. If he had acquired his properties illegally, the government would have had to wait for the court to decide. The government worked as illegally as, perhaps, Mukhtar did. He is a five-term MP, having won three elections behind bars, “said Abdul Ikhlaq, a lawyer for the High Court.
The Muslim community has relied on tactical voting. Most political observers believe the community will wait until the last moment before voting for the strongest candidate to defeat BJP. The tactical vote could become even more pronounced in this election.
The presence of Asaddudin Owaisi’s AIMIM in the legislative elections, however, does not seem to be a major factor influencing Muslim votes since the majority of the minority believes that Owaisi is not yet in a position to challenge the BJP.
There are 143 seats in Uttar Pradesh, where there is an impact of Muslim voters. There are about 70 seats where the Muslim population is between 20 and 30 percent and 43 seats where the Muslim population is over 30 percent. There are 36 seats in the UP where Muslim candidates can win on their own while there are 107 seats in the Assembly where Muslim voters can decide victory or defeat.
Rampur, Farrukhabad and Bijnor are the regions where the Muslim population is around 40 percent. Apart from that, there are many such seats in western Uttar Pradesh, Rohilkhand and eastern Uttar Pradesh, where Muslim votes influence election results.
At the same time, there are nine such seats in western Uttar Pradesh, where Muslim voters decide the fate of candidates by their votes. In these nine seats, the number of Muslim voters is around 55%. These nine seats include Meerut Sadar, Rampur Sadar, Sambhal, Moradabad Rural and Kundarki, Amroha Nagar, Dhaulana, Behat of Saharanpur and Saharanpur Dehat.
Rampur has the highest Muslim population at 50.57 percent.
The Samajwadi party led by Akhilesh Yadav won almost half of the 57 Muslim-majority seats in Uttar Pradesh in the 2012 parliamentary elections.
In 2017, the BJP dominated constituencies with large Muslim populations and won as many as 37 of those seats.
The Samajwadi party’s share fell to 17, while the Mayawati-led Bahujan Samaj party failed to retain a single seat in 2017.
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