[BSP Chief Mayawati (L) and President of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board Shaista Amber.]
Lucknow: Did Muslims voted for the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) candidates in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh elections? Debate started following the stunning victory of the Saffron party in the state refuses to cool down 24 hours after the results were announced Saturday.
Among those who believed that a large number of Muslim votes went to the BJP candidates resulting in their victories are President of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board Shaista Amber and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) Supremo Kumari Mayawati, though they have two different reasons for their conviction.
A shocked Mayawati, whose dream to power was shattered, called a press conference to accuse that the Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) were tampered with, and hence all Muslim votes 'erronously' went to the BJP candidates.
""Most votes in the Muslim majority constituencies have gone to BJP. This makes it evident that voting machines were manipulated," Mayawati said while addressing a hurreidly called press conference Saturday.
Saista Amber, President of the All India Muslim Women Personal Law Board, however has a totally different reason for her belief. Amber, who openly campaigned for the BJP, said Muslim women wanted the BJP to win because they are fed up of "male domination" and want to end injustice meted to them in the name of religion.
“It is quite likely that Muslims have voted for the BJP. Considering the fact that they took the stand for Muslim women rights I won’t be surprised if some sections have shown favor with the party,” Amber said while talking to News18.
“Muslims are known for tactical voting. But this time the community has voted for issues,” Amber, a major critic of the practice of Triple Talaq, said.
The BJP-government at the Centre had recently submitted an affidavit to the Supreme Court saying the system violates fundamental rights of Muslim women. BJP Cheif Amit Shah and other party leaders had also raised the issue during the poll, promising a solution it the party comes to power in Uttar Pradesh.
“The vote has been cast for dignity of Muslims, who don’t want to live like second class citizens and want employment, opportunities for themselves. The parties have so far only promised but not delivered – it appears Muslims have given BJP a chance to do something for them,” she said.
In Kanpur, noted academic AK Varma from the Centre for the Study of Society and Politics seem to agree with Amber.
“This kind of mandate is not possible without the votes from Muslims,” he said.
Varma pointed out that while conducting surveys for his think tank in Uttar Pradesh he saw Muslim women showing support for the BJP. “It was a surprise for us to note that the young Muslim girls were vocal about their support to BJP and that was because of the triple talaq issue. The party wants to ban that practice and it has worked for the party in some way,” he said.
“Modi’s inclusive politics has been accepted by all – even if there were communal or disturbing events the PM Narendra Modi disowned all of that,” he said.
Varma said the media missed BJP’s experiment in Mewat, where the party selected 100 Muslims dominated villages and tried to address their problems, gave them attention and tried to solve them. “That outreach also helped. In Fatehpur we saw the Muslim population giving BJP the mandate, including the the karigars and ansaris in the state. Also in notebandi was seen an attack on the rich and pro-poor.”
Professor Asmer Beg of the Aligarh Muslim University (AMU), also the Co-ordinator for Centre for Study of Developing Societies in Uttar Pradesh, said he was not surprised to know if Muslims have given their votes for BJP.
“It is very likely that Muslims have voted for the BJP and it is no surprise because the data shows that in 2014 Lok Sabha elections 10% Muslims voted for BJP,” he said.
The BJP had not given party ticket to any Muslim for the 403-member Uttar Pradesh elections.
As per the final result declared by the State Election Commission, number of Muslim MLAs in Uttar Pradesh Assembly is fewest in its history. The lowest number was 23 when the BJP had won 221 seats and formed the government with the support of BSP. The newly formed UP Assembly will have a total of 24 Muslim MLAs.