UP polls phase two: Muslims choose OBC face over own community

In Deoband for instance, Rahat Khalil of Congress and Maulana Umer Madani of AIMIM are hardly a preference for Muslim voters, who are mostly standing with SP candidate Kartikeya Rana.

Published: 15th February 2022 03:59 AM  |   Last Updated: 15th February 2022 02:48 PM   |  A+A-

Darul Uloom, Islamic seminary in Deoband (Photo | Sana Shakil)

Express News Service

SAHARANPUR/BIJNAUR:  An unprecedented phenomenon played itself out in the second phase of Uttar Pradesh polls, which has a significant chunk (37 out of 55) of seats with high concentration of Muslims.

Contrary to perception of Muslims voting as a block, this daily after travelling extensively through the west UP belt of Rampur-Moradabad-Bijnor-Saharanpur, found that Muslims lent their support to several prominent non-BJP OBC faces, instead of choosing weaker candidates from their own community.

This happened in several seats which went to polls on Monday.

Observers say the phenomena of Muslims aligning with others is not restricted to OBCs but Muslim partnership with other communities such as Dalits is likely to be seen in the later phases of voting.

In Deoband for instance, Rahat Khalil of Congress and Maulana Umer Madani of AIMIM are hardly a preference for Muslim voters, who are mostly standing with SP candidate Kartikeya Rana.

A similar trend was visible in Chandpur, where Muslims, who account for 70% of the total voters, largely seemed to be favouring Swami Omwesh of SP over Shakil Hashmi of BSP.

In the Muslim-dominated Gangoh seat in Saharanpur, one noticed most Muslims supporting Indrasen of Samajwadi Party over Noman Masood of BSP.

Tehseen, a dentist from Khera Afghan village that falls in Muslim-dominated Nakur seat, said, “They made an ATS centre in Deoband because we have Darul uloom  there. Hijab is being made an issue but the measured response from the community and no response from non-BJP parties has worked well so far. Had these parties said something, BJP would have reaped political advantage of the situation.”

A cleric at Darul Uloom chowk, who did not wish to be named, said, “Muslims are not communal. We are happy with anyone who takes us along and does not want to erase our identity.”

Talking about how Muslims voters in UP were gradually losing their electoral relevance, he said, “We are hoping that at the very least from this election, we won’t be pushed further to the margins. Muslims wish to retain some relevance, which is a must for protection of our rights in the current polarised atmosphere.”

Taslim Ahmed Rehmani, the chief of Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) and President of Muslim Political Council of India, said whatever be the outcome of elections, there is clarity that electoral importance of Muslims are likely to increase.

“In 2017, Muslims were isolated but in 2022, they are aligned either with Jats, Yadavs or other OBCs. This is what will make the Muslim votes significant. “

Sipping tea outside Gol Masjid in Sambhal’s Deepa Sarai, a group of old men wished to vote with the aim of avoiding further political marginalisation.

They pointed to one person from their group, Mohammad Ikram, who had hosted Asadaduddin Owaisi at his house for tea. Despite this, Ikram would still not vote for AIMIM.

“Owaisi is a good leader but he is not a factor in these elections,” said one of them.

India Matters


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