NEW DELHI: With stakes high in the Assembly elections, the Muslim vote is being wooed like never before in Uttar Pradesh where Rahul Gandhi has also joined the race for quota politics.
A virtually no-holds-barred battle has erupted between the Congress, the Samajwadi Party and the BSP to garner maximum vote of the minority community, which constitutes some 18 per cent of the 20 crore population.
More players, like Peace Party and Ulema Council, have emerged on the state's political scene in a significant way to claim a share of the Muslim pie.
BJP, which has always opposed the religion-based reservation, has been utilising the race among its opponents to fuel anger among the backwards projecting that the sub-quota for minorities would cut into their share.
Ironically, the tussle over the sub-quota has been started by Congress, which had gone into political wilderness in the state decades ago, in the wake of the Mandal and Mandir upsurge.
Political observers note that the demolition of the Babri Masjid on December 6,1992, also added to the miseries of the Congress.
While Union Law Minister Salman Khurshid, one of the prominent Congress leaders from UP, has himself spoken of plans for a nine per cent reservation for backward Muslims in the state and the AICC has remained firmly behind him.
The Samajwadi Party led by Mulayam Singh Yadav in its manifesto has attempted to be one up by promising job reservation to the Muslims on the basis of population-which comes to 18 per cent. The party manifesto is silent on the details.
The SP manifesto also promises to implement all recommendations of the Sachar commission, which went into the sorry plight of Muslims in the country.