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UP Muslims takes a fresh look at BJP - The Business Standard

Sharat Pradhan ()
February 9, 1998

Title: UP Muslims takes a fresh look at BJP
Author: Sharat Pradhan
Publication: The Business Standard
Date: February 9, 1998

Tired of being used as vote banks, Muslims in Uttar Pradesh
appear to be overcoming their fear of the Bharatiya Janata Party
(BJP) which is trying hard to woo the largest minority

Four months of BJP governance in the state together with the
temperate stance of party prime ministerial nominee Atal Behari
Vajpayee appear to have moderated the attitude of Muslims, many
of whom appear to be willing to give the BJP a chance to rule
India, if reactions from a cross-section of Muslims are anything
to go by.

Their new attitude is most visible among Muslim youth in
different parts of Uttar Pradesh where the minority community
forms about a fifth of the eligible voters.

Young Shia entrepreneur Tooraj Zaidi is actively campaigning for
the BJP along with several Shia youths. e are not interested in
the past. We must look ahead and with Atal Behari Vajpayee as
Prime Minister, I am sure Muslims in India, will get a fairer
deal than they have ever received in the past" said Zaidi.

Dismissing the charge of the BJP rivals that the party is
"communal," he asked, "are they not aware of the second grade
treatment meted out to Shias in Pakistan, which claims to be an
Islamic country?" He added, "I am sure Shias are safer in India
than in Pakistan, where several Shia mosques have been pulled
down or damaged."

Taking note of the lifting of the ban on religious processions of
the Shias and Sunnis, Naseem Alam, a shopkeeper in the local
Aminabad market said 'there can be no denying that the BJP has
not been as bad as we were given to believe; by allowing both
Sunnis and Shias to take out our respective processions they
have, shown that other governments too could have done it, if
they were truly sincere to our cause."

Shamim, who runs a watch repair kiosk, said, "I do not approve of
the BJP as a party, but with a man like Atal at the helm of
affairs, I am sure the party will also improve its ways.

The lifting of the ban on the Shia 'Azadaari' and Sunni 'Madde-
Sahaba' processions this year by the Singh government has pleased
both Muslim sects.

Haseeb Ansari, a young Sunni who has a sewing machine shop in the
city's Muslim quarter is no longer angry with the BJP over the
December 1992 demolition of the Babri mosque in Ayodhya.

"I have nothing against them any more because if they were to be
blamed, then the Congress (party) too must share the blame
equally," he said.

He said that unlike what the Muslims expected under a BJP
government, "there is no particular discrimination against us
under the Kalyan Singh regime. Anwar, a 25-year-old rickshaw
puller, said all governments had discriminated against Muslims.

Muslims also do not seem to be any more impressed with Union
defence minister Mulayam Singh Yadav's diatribe against the BJP
Yadav's Samajwadi Party has virtually monopolised Muslim voter
support in the state ever since the Babri mosque demolition.

"By repeatedly calling the BJP communal, we know that effort is
being made to terrorise us, but enough is enough," said Parvez
Abedin, general manager of a leather factory in Kanpur - IANS

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