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Thursday, March 29, 2012

The Muslim King who fought against Babar: Hasan Khan Mewati allied with Rana Sanga against Mughals [Glimpses of Indian History-1]

Babar, the founder of Mughal dynasty, had arrived in India in 1526, a period when Muslims were already settled in India for centuries [more than 700 years* before his arrival].

And the Sultanate in Delhi had seen umpteen rulers belonging to Slave, Khilji, Tughlak, Syed and Lodhi dynasties for almost 500 years when Babar came.

Still, owing to popular culture and the rhetoric during Ayodhya temple movement, Babar** is often seen more as ‘The invader’, on lines of Mahmud Ghaznavi and Mohammad Ghori.

The difference was that Babur didn’t plunder and leave. Babar [born 1483] made India his home, lived here and also died here [death 1530 AD].


His successors were thus Indians. Just to recall that Zahiruddin Muhammad Babar [also spelt as Babur] didn’t bring Muslim rule to India, which was well-established here from the era of Qutubuddin Aibak and even before his reign.

Either it was the attacks by Huns and Shaks or the medieval period when Turks and Mongols turned towards India, the invasions were not about religion. When Babar came to India, a Muslim king Ibrahim Lodhi was the Sultan, who ruled Hindustan from his capital, Delhi.

Babar’s army defeated him in Battle of Panipat in 1526. History can be interpreted in different ways but it can’t be erased. Babar was yet to establish himself as the supreme monarch as he faced strong opposition and the Lodis hadn’t given up as yet.

Mewat's challenge to Babar

The biggest challenge was the strong-headed Raja Hasan Khan Mewati, the Rajput chieftain whose ancestors had been ruling the region [Mewat] for long [almost two centuries] and who had declared himself as a sovereign King.

Hasan Khan Mewati was ready to take on Babar's might. He formed a grand alliance to take on the Mongol. Along with Rana Sanga, the ruler of Mewar, Hasan Khan Mewati allied with Chittaur's Sisodia Rajputs and got ready to take on the forces of the Mughals.

Besides, several other Rajput chieftains, Afghan chieftain and Ibrahim Lodi’s brother Mahmud Lodi was also supporting this confederation. In his memoirs Babar recounted later how he was troubled by Hasan Khan Mewati.

In Baburnama, he refers to Hasan Khan, who ruled from Alwar and around, as ‘the sole leader of all trouble and mischief’. He even termed him as ‘impious mannikin’. Hasan Khan’s ancestors had earlier given trouble to Bahlul Lodi also.

Though Delhi and Agra had been won, a decisive victory was needed to establish Babar’s suzerainty in North India. It was in 1527, when the historical battle of Khanwa took place, almost 50 km near Agra. It is wrongly dubbed as a Mughal king’s battle against [Hindu] Rajputs.

Rana Sanga and Hasan Khan Mewati alongside other Rajput kings and Mahmud Lodi, fought against Babar’s army that was also supported by several Hindu Rajput chiefs. Hasan Khan Mewati commanded an army of 12,000 soldiers. He fought bravely but died in this battle.

It was theartillery that gave Babar's army an edge. Though he was forgotten, years later the Mewati history termed him ‘a martyr’. Folklore and right-wing nationalism had termed it as Hindu India’s battle against an invader, Babur.

Mewat was for centuries a troubled area for the Sultanate. It was Rana Sanga who had sought Hasan Khan’s cooperation in taking on Babar. It is often not mentioned and remains mostly in history books that who had invited Babur to India.

Rana Sanga had also invited Babar to India

Apart from Daulat Khan, the Governor of Punjab, who was harassed by Ibrahim Lodi, and Lodi’s kin Alauddin Khan, Rana Sanga had also extended invitation to Babar. Rana offered military aid as well as financial support if he came from Kabul to take on Lodi.

However, it was later that the relations between them got strained. Historians suggest Rana didn’t expect Babur to settle in India and considered him a threat to his influence. Babar accused him of breach of trust, as after inviting him, Rana didn’t help in his conquest.

Hasan Khan built this fort in Alwar [Inset: another view]
Historian Satish Chandra, in his book 'Medieval Indian history: Sultanate to Mughals', surmises that Rana Sanga felt that the conflict between Babar and Lodi would stretch and this would give him the opportunity to target regions which he wanted to have control over.

Besides, he thought that Babar would return after the victory, just like Timur [Tamerlane]. The Hindus and Muslims, neither kings nor the subjects, in those days were as communal or bigoted as a section in both communities today is.

Neither Rana Sanga's fight was not against Islam nor Babur's against Hinduism [he in fact fought the last Lodhi king]. They were simply driven by political considerations, power and personal ambitions. Babar describes Hasan Khan as leader of the ‘Mewat country’.

Waqiat-e-Mushtaqi accuses Hasan Khan Mewati of creating a confederacy that was aimed at overthrowing Mughal power. It was after Hasan Khan Mewati’s death that the road to establishing the Mughal empire was cleared. Babur faced little resistance thenceforth. But Hasan Khan’s name had remained buried in voluminous texts or just mentioned in footnotes.

The Hero of Mewat

Mewat, located South of Delhi, is a region spread over Haryana, Rajasthan and also part of UP (Uttar Pradesh). Now there is a district ‘Mewat’ in Haryana also. Mews chiefly are Muslim but there customs are close to Hindus as well.

Mewat, a representative map 
The backward region remained off radar for decades except when Shuddhi-Tabligh movements had turned it into a flashpoint in pre-independence era but there is progress visible here.

For Mevs [or Meo] their brave leader’s memory lived on. Now he has been resurrected as a hero.Over the last couple of years, Indian historians are again focusing on him.

Eminent author Siddiq Ahmad Mev, who has written several books on the subject including the culture of Mewat, says that Hasan Khan was seventh ruler of the state founded by Bahadur Nahar. Hasan Khan ruled from his capital Alwar. He had built the Qila-e-Bala or fort at the top, which exists till today.

He died on March 15, 1527. Now every year, a grand function is organized in his memory. Top politicians, litterateurs, Members of parliament, activists and Mewati leaders representing different groups pay homage to Hasan Khan Mewati on this day.

[*Muslim traders had arrived in Southern India, particularly, Malabar region of Kerala from Arab in the seventh century itself. Besides, Muslims had reached Sindh almost at a similar period.]

[**Babar is neither a Muslim hero. He is not an absolute villain either. A historical figure and an important medieval king who founded one of the most important dynasties in the world.]

[History is another of my passion and I was thinking of starting a series on Indian history. This first post which focuses on medieval Indian era. The aim is to bring to fore lesser-known facts pertaining to our history through this blog--Indscribe]

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Back to Blogging: Less posts, more readers & my blog's journey

Ever since 2005, I have been writing consistently on this blog and though the bygone year was least productive in terms of the number of posts which I churned up, still, it was a satisfying year for me.

The joy of blogging is all about the freedom you have in expressing yourself and the fact that you don't need to worry about the constraints of newspaper columns or the demands of the editor.

Even though I wrote fewer posts, I felt that the quality wasn't compromised. The year 2011 had begun on this blog with an off-beat feature on the smoking saint:

Killed by Indians, Revered by Indians' about the East India company's 'Christian' officer who was killed by Indian soldiers but over the years whose grave became a place of reverence and where people offer cigarettes.

COMMUNAL HARMONY & OFF-BEAT

Strange and unique stories included Pind-daan ritual for MF Husain and his soul's salvation by Hindus in Bihar [Read], 'Ganesha on Muslim couples' marriage invitation card' [Read], stories on condition of Sindhi newspapers and magazines in India et al.


TRAVELOGUES

Some travelogues that included pieces on Lucknow. First about 'Blogging from Lucknow: The romance of Rumi Gate then about 'Clock towers of Awadh', Wandering from Aminabad to Hazratganj, Culture of non-vegetarian street food in India 'Bun-Kebabs and street food'.

Or the post on the huge 'Chaubara', a Clock tower-cum-watchtower in Karnataka's Bidar. There was a post on Kanpur, 'Ganges and Greenery but no Gazelles'[Read]. Many posts were about Shias who interest me a lot viz. Shia populace yearning for political clout and Bohra community in India.
POETRY & LITERATURE

Urdu poetry is the defining feature of this blog. There were reports about couplets recited at Mushairas like this post. The demise of veteran poet of Bhopal 'dabistaan', Ishrat Qadri was a personal loss, it was titled, 'We haven't forgotten you Ishrat Sahab' and 'Buy a Urdu paper campaign' that began from Kolkata.

CRICKET

Though I focused a lot on cricket in the earlier posts like the articles on memories of the world cups of cricket from the first such even in 1975 [Read and Read] to Zaheer Khan's sporting journey [Read] & Azamgarh throws up a hero [Read] but in latter part of the year I couldn't keep the tempo.

FEATURE

Several satisfying posts like about the serendipitous discovery of a hidden heritage, which I wrote after finding this little-known but amazing Shia shrine in Unnao, and the one on centenary of shifting of capital from Calcutta to Delhi, 'Calcutta 1911 and Ismail Merathi's Urdu primer' [Read].

MUSLIM ISSUES

There were posts like 'Indian Muslims must avoid street protests' [Read], as images of angry crowds and furious mobs create a bad image of the community. And yes, firing in Forbesganj [Read] or article on media's astonishing softness on Sanatan Sanstha: Terror convicts termed as servants! [Read].

POLITICS & SOCIETY

Posts on 'Peace Party's growth in Uttar Pradesh [Read]. Decade of Print media boom in India that defied international trends. Among other off-beats posts were my visit to a Circus after a long time and returning sad, a post on Arjun Singh amongst others [Read]. Even a guest post.

There was focus on politics, stories on election scene and also a post on 'Narendra Modi's chances to become India's Prime Minister' [Read]. Come on you can't call me 'sickular' or 'pseduo', I tried to be objective even if some of you would differ.

Not many movie reviews though I did watch Shahrukh Khan starrer Ra One and wrote a piece. There was another piece on 'Ghantaghar' which was about a father constructing a clock tower in his son's memory in Lucknow [Read].

KASHMIR

I focused on Kashmir in the posts like 'Eternal Suspects: Mistreating Kashmiri youths outside J&K' and 'Patriotism or Petty politics at Lal Chowk'. There were a couple of posts on Indian Muslims' and their issues including communalism, police excesses but mostly introspective ones like 'Sorry, I don't need a Muslim leadership' [Read].


WOMEN POWER

In positive stories, there was focus on Saba Anjum, the India women's hockey team captain's journey was mentioned in the post, 'Muezzin's daughter is national team captain' and story on Muslim girls breaking tradition and contesting students' union election in AMU [Read].

Whither Blogging: Soaring Traffic, Lesser Comments

Though there is less discussion on blogging now, I notice a trend. The traffic on this site has gone up sharply even though I am not even posting every week. Last year, sometimes only one article was posted a month.

But despite the surge in traffic, there are lesser comments. One of the reasons could be the moderation of comments, which I had introduced. Many people who are not on blogs, try but failing to log in, simply walk away without commenting.

But even otherwise, I feel, people are reading, even spending more time on blog, but avoid comments. The ones, who make wild or abusive comments, are of course filtered. Either Hindu or Muslim fundamentalist, none can get through.

I can't stand meaningless debates and the endless arguments of hate-filled  'Anonymous' netizens who keep suspecting others' patriotism and nationalistic credentials or rake up an old issue, discussed a million times, and again 'demand' your answer.

BLOGGING IN 2012

For this year [2012], I had intend to write more often. Till now I have been quite regular and hope to write twice the number of posts compared to last year. For last year's annual blogging round up [year 2010], you can go to THIS LINK.

So keep reading, friends.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Clueless Congress: Rahul Gandhi, his party's disconnect from Muslims and the community's aspirations

Congress has suffered a jolt with Samajwadi Party's landslide victory in UP elections. The drubbing is not just because of consolidation of Muslims voters but also other sections, however, the fact remains that Muslims didn't get lured by Congress' promises.

There are several reasons:

1. Muslims don't want anything special but simply need basic amenities. However, Congress governments fail to deliver even on this count in states where they are in power.

Muslim ghettoes that overwhelmingly vote for Congress, remain the same. There is no change. The lesser said about the presence of hospitals and dispensaries or schemes regarding opening schools during Congress regimes, the better it would be.

Muslims don't expect any party to promise that it will get them moon. It is well-known that such things [which BJP would instantly term as 'appeasement'] are not possible. Congress promises implementing Sachar panel recommendations but UPA's first term went without any step in this regard and soon this five year term at the centre would also end. Won't people feel that they are being taken for a ride?

2. If you can't provide jobs or better civic amenities, the most basic expectation is that the law-and-order would be effective and there would not be fear of communal riots. But either it is Rajasthan where policemen fired at Muslims in Gopalgarh, a one sided action which was initially defended by state government, unjustifiable use of force at Karbala Jor Bagh despite a court order in favour of Muslims or illegal detentions [harassment] of Muslim youths in Delhi, the situation remains the same. What's the difference between Rajasthan and NDA ruled Bihar where firing in Forbesganj occurred?

3. The Congress-led UPA government cares about the morale of police & security agencies but not sensitive enough to the demand and morale of hundreds of millions of Muslims. From police to lieutenant governor, at every step attempt was made to stop information sought regarding the Batla House encounter case. Would heavens have fallen if a judicial inquiry in Batla House encounter was instituted?

After all, inquiries keep lingering for years, and even if there is a recommendation, you can simply ignore it. Haven't you been doing this for the last sixty years. This strange attitude shows Congress' contempt towards us [Muslims]. It hurts. You don't consider us anything except electoral slaves.

4. Twice in Maharashtra, Congress fought election on the promise that it would implement recommendations of Sri Krishna Commission panel regarding 1992-93 Mumbai riots. This hasn't materialised. No wonder, Muslims voted for SP and your party lost in BMC election in Mumbai.

In fact, recommendations in all such cases including the infamous Maliana killings still gather dust. There is either no will or a strong right-wing presence in your party which ensures that not a single killer cop would ever get punished.

Such is the hold on bureaucracy that in cases like Hari Masjid firing where policemen entered mosque and fired at devotees, Maharashtra police acts with unusual zeal to protect its tainted cops.

5. Congress often gets Muslim votes by default. Muslims wanted an alternative. Many of us wanted a party that would be centrist, even a bit towards the right, but which would not act dubiously. Under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, BJP had somehow got a bit of Muslim support.

Unfortunately Gujarat happened, and just the fear that Gujarat carnage didn't recur, Muslims had no option but to support your party. There was no third front [unlike the United Front or Left Front in late 90s] and hence Congress became the sole alternative.

6. Even though the Muslim electorate forget all the past follies of Congress ranging from installation of idol in Ram Temple to former Prime Minister Narasimha Rao's promise of rebuilding Babri Masjid, but even today, there is no clarity in its approach.

Forget giving adequate representation to Muslims, the party leaders and 'Muslim faces' imposed by it remain out of touch with ground realities. Perhaps there is a feeling that Muslims have no option and will keep on voting for your party.

Just for the record, SP has inducted 10 Muslims in its 47 member cabinet. Congress wouldn't have named five. It doesn't show interest in letting Muslim leadership in the party grow. If there are outspoken politicians within party they either don't go up or are not given as much importance.

7. Rahul ji, your leaders aren't approachable. At ground level, they fly or whiz past us without listening to our problems. When we tell them, they appear listening sympathetically listen and when they go back, simply forget to take action.

Now if we come to the issue of virtual world, it is common complaint that Congress leaders aren't approachable on Twitter or Facebook. A few of them have accounts but don't interact or reply, compared to other parties.

Akhilesh Yadav promised promotion of Urdu
Initially I thought that I would give this post a title 'Open letter to Congress from an Indian Muslim' [or Rahul Gandhi]. But somehow, one feels, it would be futile. It is not that Congress leaders won't know what their voters expect from them.

In Urdu papers, these issues are mentioned regularly. But is there any interest visible on part of India's oldest political party when it comes to improving infrastructure in Muslim localities or ensuring swift action on schemes for Muslims.

8. Despite tall claims made by UPA-I and also UPA-II, Muslims are still denied loans by banks. Figures suggest that there is little change despite reminders and rebukes.

The money for scholarships don't reach the students easily. Congress blames opposition parties that rule states from where many complaints about lack of implementation of policies for betterment of minorities are received.

Congress leaders immediately release huge amounts when Chief Ministers of non-Congress states accuse Centre of bias in releasing funds to non-Congress states. While releasing the funds, the UPA leaders can push the States for release of funds for minorities. Can't they? Why year after year, funds are earmarked but only to get lapsed.

9. Rahul Gandhi seems sincere and interested in redressing the problems of Dalits, Muslims and other sections. But the party doesn't seem interested at all. Whenever Congress governments take charge of office, they begin acting arrogantly.
Target Next:  Election 2014 

Just now Congress has managed to come to power in Uttarakhand. We are yet to hear a word regarding Muslims. Will the status of Urdu as second official language, which almost ended during BJP rule, be restored? We haven't heard a word as yet.

10. The role of UP unit of Congress in closing down Urdu medium schools in post-independence era is too well known. It may not be printed too often or voiced publicly but the steps that were responsible for backwardness among Muslims in North India, aren't forgotten. Even today, Congress cares little about Urdu. Here is an old post: Read

It is possible that at the national level where the issues are different and electorate think in terms of installing a government at the centre, the voters' behaviour might be different. In UP, the party that was in a position to defeat BSP was supported and of course Muslims overwhelmingly voted for SP.

When Congress leader Salman Khurshid talked about Muslim reservation, Muslims were not amused. The 4.5% quota was a bad joke and it was meant for all religious minorities [that include Sikhs, Christians, Jains & Buddhists apart from Muslims] but was projected as if Muslims will be the sole beneficiaries. Bhai ham log itne saal se bewaqoof ban rahe hain, aur kitna banenge!.

It is just an exasperated Indian Muslim's rant. One hopes that Congress would understand that Muslims, like rest of Indians, don't want anything special. Good governance, access to basic amenities, justice and understanding of their issues. Of course, no false promises. And whatever little you promise, at least deliver or show the intention to deliver.  

[This was the third and last part in the series of posts after UP elections. First was about SP's victory and the second about BSP's strange relationship with Muslims]

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Mayawati's strange relationship with Muslims: Why BSP wanted to throw away all its Muslim support?

'They didn't vote for us' : Why should they?
BSP has lost power in UP and its leader terms loss of Muslim vote to the party as one of the main reasons. More than others, she has to reflect over it.

But before coming to her strange relationship with Muslims and TEN points on Muslims' disillusionment, just a recap. Wayback in early 1990s, the rise of BSP had given hopes to Muslims, who wanted an alternative to Congress in North India, especially, UP.

Muslims felt that if BSP manages to get a majority of Dalit votes, it would be in a position to form the government on its own.

Though Muslims had soft corner for SP leader Mulayam Singh Yadav because of his bold stand in the Babri Masjid issue, it was clear that Yadavas were not as numerous as Dalits.

Also, whenever Muslims actively supported SP in those days, it led to reverse polarisation in favour of BJP. Kashi Ram's efforts from the days of BAMCEF bore fruits and the BSP had finally managed to become a strong cadre based party in Uttar Pradesh.

Though Dr Faridi had passed away long back but his dream of forging a Dalit-Muslim alliance was coming into reality. Muslims were disillusioned with Congress, which was responsible for backwardness of Muslims in UP.

Congress appeared to seek Muslim vote only because if it didn't win, there was the fear of BJP coming to power. After Kashi Ram's death, Mayawati finally took control over the party. In her initial tenure she didn't seem to take any important pro-minority steps.

But whenever she lost, she seemed upset that Muslims didn't vote for her. However, a substantial percentage of Muslims always voted for BSP. In 2007 when she sought Upper Caste support and got absolute majority in UP Assembly, it was time Muslim community expected some good decisions.

Muslims didn't want anything out of the way from the party. However, just keeping the state 'riot-free' could not be a sop for Muslims, as they also get aspirational. Strangely, she never even tried to understand Muslim psyche or their just demands.

Nasimuddin: None better than him!
Nasimuddin Siddiqui remained her sole link to Muslims and as far as his image or understanding of the needs for the community, the lesser said is the better. In this tenure, she remained aloof from Muslims. In fact, one felt that she has certain disdain or disinterest towards Muslims.

Earlier when she lost, she had (in)famously said that Muslims are 'kattar' [fundamentalist] and didn't vote for her party. On this occasion, she said that Muslims didn't vote for her. Doesn't she realise that Muslims have no reason or obligation to vote for her.

Here are just a few points I would mention regarding Mayawati's strange relationship with Muslims.

1. Forget any schemes or projects aimed at uplift of Muslims, BSP government never tried to even build bridges with Muslims. Kashi Ram, when he had roped in Urdu poets and intellectuals in late 80s and early 90s, knew this well that a few 'occsaional' statements are enough to make the Muslims happy.

2. When Azamgarh was defamed or when Muslim youths were routinely picked, she never even sympathised with the community or speak against the trend of demonising the place. Muslims expected nothing from the state government, just statements that 'Azamgarh shouldn't be branded as den of terrorists'.

3. When BSP MPs Akbar Ahmad Dumpy and Ilyas Azmi protested in Parliament, wearing the striped keffiyeh and raising copies of Mail Today, over the Batla House encounter, she had reprimanded them
for their stand, without consulting her. This didn't go down well with Muslims, who in fact, wanted her to take a stand.

4. Muslims have an emotional link with Urdu. The language killed in UP during successive Congress regimes and the discriminatory law that stops opening of Urdu medium schools in the state was promulgated. SP did take steps for restoring Urdu's status.

But BSP never seemed concerned about Urdu. In ten years, I have seen just two Urdu banners of the BSP supremo in Lucknow in more than ten years. Her government took no interest in continuing services of Urdu translators or the issues pertaining to the language.

Of course, she stalled Azam Khan's Maulana Mohammad Ali Jauhar University project. The Arabic-Persian university which was the only big project announced for Muslim students during her five year regime, remained a non-starter.

When recently the Congress danged the carrot of reservation for Muslims in the OBC quota, which was in fact for all minorities, she was first to oppose it though later realising the folly, changed the stand and asked for a separate quota.

5. Neither priority was given to Muslims in recruitment in police nor in other government schemes. For a while [2010-2011] scholarships were given to Muslim girl students in schools but they were also insufficient and mostly in cities. When she spoke about quota  for Dalits in private sector, she forgot Muslims.


Akbar Ahmad 'Dumpy' spoke but Maya...
 6. Certain things hurt a lot. She didn't interact with Muslims, even Muslim women. Even this could be ignored as it had become her style.

But when delegation of Ulema went to meet her, they were asked to take off their footwear and frisked in such a manner, that Muslims felt offended.

7. Whenever new districts were named, it was done after Dalit leaders. Unlike other caste groups Muslims never opposed her constructions, parks and memorials, as they had seen how post-independence Congress governments in UP had erased Muslim-sounding names in UP.

While BSP never cared to initiate any scheme or project after a Muslim freedom fighter's name, it even went ahead and changed names that disturbed Muslims. A case in point is Amroha, which is now part of JP Nagar. Its a question of identity. Over the years, the word, Amroha, had become to symbolise Muslim culture and if the district had to be renamed then why not BSP consider a Muslim personality for renaming it?

Everybody on the street asked, why she takes decisions so arbitrarily as if we don't exist, have no identity and no voice. Christening places is also an interesting electoral ploy but it works. Once even Jayalalithaa had named a Tamil Nadu district 'Dindigul' as 'Dindigul Qaid-e-Milleth' after Maulvi Islamil and the decision had earned her huge Muslim support then.

8. Mayawati CAN'T BE written off. She might bounce back. Yes, her Dalit support remains intact. But it remains a mystery why she doesn't at all care about Muslim support. Why, after all, she takes it for granted or feels that it Muslims will anyhow vote for her.

The elephant was even termed an Upper Caste symbol in slogans during campaigns by changing the earlier anti-Upper Caste stand 'tilak-tarazu aur talwar, into maro jootey chaar', but Muslims, who were never averse to wear the blue hue, were neglected.

9. Perhaps, she felt that Muslims will vote for BSP wherever a Muslim candidate is fielded by her party. So the strategy of fielding more Muslims was enough! But the fact is that Muslims were too hurt. And they are so disillusioned that the feeling wouldn't go in five years. 'Sukh-dukh mein saath' [even if just verbal] is what one expects from the leader.

10. The issues of Muslim artisans were never on priority. The weavers were suffering but the UP government didn't take interest. The power [electricity supply] situation in Muslim dominated parts of cities and towns remained as bad as it was during BJP rule.

If not wholeheartedly, there can be at least, moral support to an extent. But she neither tried to implement a development agenda for Muslims, nor speak on behalf of Muslims who felt besieged on several occasions. If she didn't understand Muslim psyche, why she never took any step towards getting emotionally close to Muslims. At least, should could have a got a few good advisers. What stopped her from doing that? It's a big question?

Mayawati may win once again. But it is a bit saddening that she somehow remains apathetic to Muslims. Had she been a bit proactive, she could have cemented a winning Dalit-Muslim alliance. If a party gets support of this block, there is no question of electoral loss for it in Uttar Pradesh.

Mulayam couldn't muster more than 30% even if all Muslims and Yadavs voted for him. Mayawati could get over 30% just if half of Muslims supported her [and 40% if all Muslims supported her]. Had she taken a few positive steps, a majority of Muslims would have supported her. After all, a party that is more likely to win gets more support.

Leaders, MLAs, and politicians who were part of the government, always expressed their frustration. I'm not talking about the legislators whose sole aim is 'influence, power and money' but the educated ones who wanted to raise real issues of Muslims at the grassroots.

But she didn't evoke any confidence among Muslims. The message was not for once that 'this is your party also'. Of course it is a Dalit-based party, Muslims didn't want to be wooed [like Brahmins were once] but there was need for some acknowledgement for their support.

It was never done. This stand has cost her in other states also. Muslims earlier considered BSP an alternative but they don't seem enthusiastic about it anywhere. It is not a question of inherent biases. It is simply a thing about losing a big opportunity. Call it her whims or whatever. Mayawati is, after all, Mayawati.

Tuesday, March 06, 2012

UP election 2012: Samajwadi Party Wave Or Voters' consolidation against Mayawati's BSP?

Akhilesh Yadav: Thank you UP!
The results of Uttar Pradesh Assembly election have thrown a surprise. Though everybody expected Samajwadi Party to do well, the landslide majority has astonished even the party's most ardent supporters.

Once the elections are over, everyone worth his salt can write an analysis and spell out reasons for Congress' debacle, BJP's poor show and Mayawati's failure to hold on to her vote. But the truth is that anyone who travelled in UP, would have sensed a wave.

It [the vote] was not for Samajwadi Party. It was more for a party that was best suited to defeat the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Of course, Akhilesh proved himself as an affable alternative. Even though law-and-order front was not at all as bad as in the previous regime, there was a growing sense of disenchantment towards the BSP government.

Can it be blamed for caste prejudice? The Upper Caste and even a section of Muslims who wanted Mayawati to lose power, wanted the regime to go anyhow? Not exactly so. Just five years back Muslims had wholeheartedly supported Mayawati and so did the Upper Castes.

Then what happened in the last five years? The complaints about unnecessary spending on statues to an extent smacked of inner prejudices. Even in the past, when Dr BR Ambedkar's statues were erected in UP during BSP's initial regimes, one could sense the Upper Caste's [even so-called 'elite' Muslim] discomfort.

When King George Medical College's name was changed, even Muslims seemed apalled. Though it was a colonial name that had been replaced with that of a Dalit icon Shahuji Maharaj, a move that shouldn't have been opposed. After all, post-independence, Muslim poets, writers and personalities were forgotten in UP.

Hardly any building, park or monument was named after Muslim freedom fighters or minority leaders in the six decades and even whatever had remained was either changed or destroyed. Still, Maywati's creations seemed to cause more heartburns.

Just like in earlier election, when everybody was fed up of 'Goonda Raj' and people on the street openly talked about Mayawati's arrival, on this occasion there was a clear consolidation against BSP. The reasons, even not too convincing, were aplenty.

People talked about her 'aloofness', her 'arrogance', her 'lack of interaction', her 'narcissism' in the same breath. What did it stem from? After all, the law-and-order situation wasn't as bad as it is often projected. People on the ground said that there was corruption.

A Dalit auto-rickshaw driver told me that it was his dream to buy a three-wheeler of his own. But couldn't do it because the rickshaw cost Rs 2 lakh. However, for its permit, he needed another Rs 3 lakh apart from a ruling party politician's recommendation in RTO [Transport department].
4.5% quota was not just for Muslims but all Minorities 

People in all walks of life had similar tales to tell. They claimed that earlier 'kaam to ho jata tha', now much more money was needed apart from political connections for your work to be done.

Either it was getting recognition for your primary school or starting a sawmill [a person spent Rs 10 lakh for re-starting his own saw-mill as the licence had expired].

It was such tales of corruption that perhaps hit Mayawati. The stories about the corruption kept on spreading. Urban legends spread fast. Maya's aloofness and 'attitude' probably made it sound more credible. MLAs complained she was inaccessible.

The honeymoon between Upper Castes and Dalits was over. Brahmins felt they had been totally neglected after the government was formed with their support. Was their grievance genuine or it was the gradual decline in their traditional influence in rural UP [and urban] that perturbed them.

Was it Maya's overconfidence that did her in or it was part of strategy to consolidate Dalit voter, which backfired? One thing is sure, as voters realised that SP is the only party in position to convincingly defeat BSP, the indecisive voters also supported it.

Though Yadavs are not a big block compared to Dalits, Mulayam managed to get the backing of the powerful backward castes. Though incumbency could be a factor, Mayawati didn't lose her hold over the Dalits. But the party was no longer evoking interest among other caste groups.

Even the huge number of young electorate that came out to exercise franchise for the first time, seem to have supported SP, which is no less surprising. As far as BJP is concerned, it had been marginalised long ago. Apart from infighting, Uma Bharati's import from Madhya Pradesh failed to enthuse it.

Veteran BJP leaders couldn't instill any confidence in its workers. Rahul Gandhi worked hard but people wanted to vote for a party that would form a government in the state. It was not a union election and hence there was no need to waste the vote.

The promise of 4.5% reservation for minorities that included all religious groups including Sikhs, Christians, Jain and Buddhists further angered Muslims, because Congress touted it as a Muslim reservation, which it was not.

Salman Khurshid, who is not a politician of grassroots, again had to face his wife Loiuse Khurshid's defeat. Even in its bastions, Amethi, Rae Bareli and Sultanpur, its candidates performed badly and the party lost at most of the places.

The remarks on Batla House issue had angered Muslims. The party twice won Maharashtra over the promise of implementing Sri Krishna Commission report but never did that. It couldn't even order a judicial inquiry in the Batla House encounter. What use is such party?

The anger over Kalyan Singh's entry to SP, which was evident last time, was a thing of past now. A new record was created as far as victory of Muslim legislators is concerned. Even a Muslim contestant won from Lucknow where communal polarisation and Shia-Sunni dispute [causing division of votes] was reason for lack of Muslim representation from the City for decades.

At least 69 Muslim candidates won the election, with SP's Muslim contestants emerging victorious in 43 seats. This is the highest ever number of Muslim MLAs in Uttar Pradesh Assembly. The positive aspect is that SP has got majority and there would not be any horsetrading.

Akhilesh Yadav had made many promises. It is his personality that helped the SP and drew the electorate. He must get the credit for changing the public perception about SP. A section worries about decline of national parties in UP, India's most populous state that has a population of 200 million.

But it is also a healthy aspect for Indian democracy. The checks and balances would make it more vibrant. SP has to deliver on governance and development. Ajit Singh's RLD is getting further marginalised in the state politics.


Just for the record, the difference in Assembly composition in 2007 and 2012. In the 403 member UP legislative assembly, a party needs 202 for absolute majority.

2007-2012 

Parties' tally in UP Assembly

Year    BSP   SP   BJP  Cong  RLD              Others/Independents
2007   206     97     51     22     10                             17
2012    80     224    47     37 [Cong+RLD]               15

Congress and BJP can't be complacent and need to rework their strategies. Electorate won't reward them just because the are 'national parties'. SP's victory will do well to keep UPA's arrogance in check. Similarly, BJP leaders also need to do lot of introspection.

Sound bytes and articulation in TV studios won't fetch them power in the cow belt, which is the route to power at Delhi. After this result, BJP leadership would surely have realised it. Will anlyze more in coming posts on this blog.

For the list of names of winners and losers in all the constituencies in UP, check the Election Commission's website. And another link that tells name of all the winners on one page is HERE