The Samajwadi Party (SP) supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav's dreams to rule from Delhi may not realise as his party is fast losing support of 18.5% Muslims in Uttar Pradesh who helped his party to return to power in 2012. Over 300 representatives of Muslim social, political and cultural groups, who converged here under Shahi Jama Masjid Imam, Syed Ahmed Bukhari felt Yadav has deceived them and appealed their community to give him a befitting reply in the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Though the gathering did not issue an appeal in favour of any party, Bukhari dropped enough hints that he was going along with the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) to boost its chief Mayawati's chances at the centre.
Talking to dna, Bukhari described Mayawati's rule better than Akhlesh Singh's. "Atleast Muslims were safe during Mayawati period. There were no riots, even though she didn't care for their economic uplift," he said. Among others, who attended the meeting at Jama Masjid included journalist Shahid Sidiqui who was expelled from the SP for interviewing Narindra Modi, Rajya Sabha MP Mohammad Adeeb, Ejaz Ali and Dr Tasleem Rahmani.
Targeting Mulayam squarely, the Imam said his party was fully involved in Muzaffarnagar riots which were no less gruesome than 2002 Gujarat carnage. He alleged that the SP supremo had conspired with the Vishwa Hindu Parishad (VHP) and prepared ground for over 100 communal riots.
In 2012 assembly polls, Bukhari had not only issued an appeal in favour of the SP but also campaigned in key constituencies. The meeting constituted an 11-member committee headed by Bukhari to deliberate and set terms for political parties. "In light of the report of this committee, which it will submit by March end, the Jama Masjid will guide Muslim electorate," said the Imam. Regretting the support he extended to the SP in the 2012 assembly polls, Bukhari said that the results of the 2014 Lok Sabha polls would be entirely different from the assembly polls.
Another Muslim leader Maulana Tauqir Raza Khan of All India Milli Itehad echoed similar views. Grandson of late Ahemd Raza Khan, chieftain of Barelvi school of thought, Tauqir Raza was anointed chairman of a committee with cabinet minister rank by the Akhlesh government. Another prominent leader Jamait Ulema-e-Hind (M) general secretary, Maulana Mahmood Madni, a leader of Deoband school of thought also attacked the SP government for failing to protect the lives of people in Muzaffarnagar riots. While handing keys of the houses built for riot victims in Shamli, he asked people to ensure the SP government is taught a lesson in the elections. The Jamiat has built 55 houses for riot victims naming it the 'Madni Nagar' colony. The Aligarh Muslim University Teachers Association (AMUTA) has also decided to boycott Mulayam visit to the university on Monday, an influential modern centre of learning.
Muslims, who form 18.5 % of UP population account between 21% and 50% in 16 Lok Sabha constituencies. In another 29 seats, they constitute 15 % of electorate, enough to tilt scales in a multi-corner contest. Though, in 2009 general elections, Muslim vote was divided between the SP, the Congress and the BSP, keeping in view the electoral preferences of Muslims in 2012 assembly polls, Mulayam had set his eyes on the top post in Delhi.
In 2009, among 16 Muslim majority seats, the distribution was SP (3), Congress (5), BSP (4), Rashtriya Lok Dal (2) and BJP (2). Due to this fractured voting pattern, the SP won 22, the BSP and Congress 21 each, the BJP 9 and the RLD 5. The perception of failure of Samajwadi Party government in preventing Muzaffarnagar riots and the central UPA government's failure to rescue victims of violence and not attending to their developmental needs is turning out to be a major factor in upsetting Muslim voters' support to both these parties, who shared more than half, 43 seats in the state, that sends 80 MPs.