On Thursday, it was the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid Sayyed Ahmed Bukhari and on Friday, Kamal Faruqui, former national general secretary of SP and member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board, switching sides from the Samajwadi Party and pledging their support for the BSP.
In what is seen as a desperate attempt on the part of BSP supremo Mayawati, Muslim leaders are being roped in one after the other to not only pledge their support to Behenji but also launch a scathing attack on the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance.
All of a sudden, these Muslim leaders seem to have awakened from the slumber which they were in for the last five years and divine realisation has come to them that the SP has marginalised the Muslim community.
Realisation possibly came to both Bukhari and Faruqui at the last moment, hours before the first phase of Assembly elections on 73 seats is due to commence in Uttar Pradesh.
Does this emanate from an overwhelming fear within the BSP of a possible split in the minority vote which may cause a debacle in the forthcoming elections?
Mayawati has much at stake in the elections. She does not want to leave any stone unturned to ensure that her traditional Dalit votebank sticks to her, but that not being enough as the fight has become tough, she also wants to garner a sizeable chunk of the Muslim vote.
It was largely with this intent that she chose to give 97 seats to Muslim candidates and minced no words in proclaiming the same. She did not stop at that - she was quick to lap up the opportunity of roping in the Ansari brothers and was quick to give them three tickets, replacing her own candidates.
The message is loud and clear - Mayawati is banking heavily on minority votes. The reason is not too difficult to comprehend - except for the Jatav votebank, she is not very confident about other Dalit votes sticking to her in the forthcoming elections, and there can be no winning formula minus the minority vote for her.
Possibly the desperation also emanates from the fact that putting aside all criticism and flip-flops, the SP and the Congress joined hands again with an eye on the minority votes. Mayawati may have overwhelming fear that if the coalition politics works, it may spell disaster for the BSP.
As such, there seems to be a flutter of activity, with one Muslim leader after the other pledging support for Mayawati. This clearly appears stage-managed. A similar attempt was made in 2004 during India signing campaigns by the BJP.
|Questions are being raised as to why the likes of Faruqui and Bukhari remained silent for five years during the entire rule of the SP. (Photo: India Today)|
Then Shahi Imam of the Jama Masjid had parroted statements against voting in favour of the Congress. The statements possibly created no ripples and the much expected polarisation against the Congress never happened in the elections.
Now questions are being raised as to why the likes of Faruqui and Bukhari remained silent for five years during the entire rule of the SP. Why is it that they chose the last moment to speak their minds against the SP?
Faruqui clearly towed the line of Bukhari and squarely blamed the SP for over 400 riots in the state. They indicated that the SP was responsible for riots in Muzaffarnagar, Kosi Kalan and Dasna. Both leaders indicated in unison that Muslims were cheated during the tenure of the SP as the party failed to live up to the expectations of the community by providing them reservations which were promised in the manifesto.
Faruqui also raised the question, "how is it that the entire family of the SP manages to win elections on the votes of minorities but not a single Muslim gets elected".
Had these issues been raised much earlier, possibly these leaders could have garnered a wider following. But their last minute U-turn reeks of vested interests being the guiding force.
It would probably be clear on March 11 whether the calls made by various religious leaders actually translated into concrete votes.