Wednesday, January 4, 2012

UP Muslims Should Think Before They Vote

By Raza Elahi

As all the parties are busy in wooing Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh, it is time for the community to think and value the importance of their votes.

It is an irony that Muslim votes, which are around 16% in the state, get divided among the three main parties -- BSP, SP and Congress. There are just 55 Muslim MLAs in 403-seat UP assembly, despite the fact that Muslim votes play a major role in around 125 Assembly constituencies of which 80 seats have more than 20% of Muslim votes.

Although it is too early to predict the UP Assembly polls results, yet it is almost clear that there will be a hung Assembly. No party will likely to be in a position to form government on its own. As of now, two post-poll combinations are emerging and Muslims should also think in term of those combinations before they vote.

As Mayawati is losing ground -- courtesy scams, corruption charges and anti-incumbency factor -- she may not hesitate in joining hands with other parties after the result to remain in power. Congress and SP will certainly not go with BSP. This will leave Mayawati of no choice but to join hands with BJP. And the one likely post-poll combination is BSP-BJP combine with support of (if required) independents and other smaller parties.

SP, the other main party in the state, is leaving no stone unturned to encash all the anti-BSP plank with its strong party cadre. However, SP may also fall short of the magic figure.

The most interesting part of this Assembly poll is to see how Congress performs. Banking on Rahul Gandhi’s magic and his Muslim-Jat-Kurmi vote-bank innovation, Congress is certain to regain its lost glory, but again it also can't form the government on its own. In that case, the Congress will be more comfortable with SP rather than BSP in sharing the power in the state. It will also give Congress the support of SP MPs at the Centre. So, the second likely post-poll combination is Congress-RLD and SP combine with support of (if required) some fringe players.

Now, Muslim should vote in accordance with two things -- first, which of these two combinations suit them, and second how the number of Muslim MLAs can be increased.

It is clear that in most of the Muslim dominated constituencies there are at least two Muslim candidates fighting on the tickets of any of the four major parties -- BSP, SP, Congress-RLD and BJP. So, there are chances of their vote getting divided and wasted. Muslims should first think of which post-poll combinations will be better for the community. With BSP may go with BJP, Muslims should pick Congress-RLD and SP combine.

Now, the question is how Muslims should choose candidates between Congress-RLD and SP.

They should select candidates constituency-wise. Meaning, if any of these two parties (Congress-RLD and SP) has fielded Muslim candidates, then Muslim votes should go to Muslim candidates. If both the parties (Congress-RLD and SP) have given tickets to Muslim candidates in same constituency, then Muslims should pick any one of the two candidates and vote him/her en-bloc in that constituency. It is only then the number of Muslim MLAs can increase and the state can have a government which is better suited for the community.


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