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Former UP governor’s support may help cancel out effects of pro-BSP cry by clerics

By Anamika Singh, APN Lucknow

How are the Muslims voting in the UP election?

After Shia cleric Maulana Kalbe Jawad and imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid Maulana Ahmed Bukhari both threw their weights behind the elephant, the ruling party faced possible erosion of one of their most important vote banks. Fortunately, it has scored, with its president and incumbent CM Akhilesh Yadav securing the key support of former UP and Mizoram governor Aziz Qureshi in mobilizing the community to vote for it in the ongoing assembly polls.

Qureshi has called Akhilesh “leader of the Muslim community” and appealed to his community to vote in favour of the SP.

Considered a large vote base for the Samajwadi Party, the community has, however, found favour with the rival BSP in recent times. Sensing unhappiness among Muslims vis-à-vis the SP government, the BSP has given tickets to 97 Muslim candidates in the polls.

Aziz Qureshi
Aziz Qureshi

In the 2002 UP election, the SP drew 54 percent Muslim votes which decreased in 2007 to 45 percent and further slipped to 39 percent in 2012. Surprisingly, the trend of Muslims voting for the BSP has been moving upwards. In 2002, nine percent of Muslim votes were polled in support of the BSP, which rose to 17 percent in 2007 and 20 percent in 2012.

Muslims constitute 18 percent of the total population of 3.84 crores in the state. It is believed that the combined support of Muslims and Yadavs helped Akhilesh Yadav secure power in the state in the 2012 election. Hence change of heart within the Muslim leadership might lead to a big shock for the Samajwadi Party.

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