Did Muslims really vote for BJP?

muslim voting
Community contradicts: Muslims, in general, have denied reports suggesting that their women and youth voted in sizeable numbers

Success, they say, has many fathers but failure is an orphan. But here in Uttar Pradesh the Muslim voters are going all out to prove this saying wrong. The community appears shy of accepting their role in the unprecedented thumping majority secured by the Bharitya Janata Party in Uttar Pradesh assembly polls. While election experts insist this landslide victory could not have been possible without the support of the hitherto anti- BJP minority community’s support, the community itself steps back and is in fact expressing shock and surprise at the results and blame it all on the faulty EVM machines, which they insist turned their secular votes into a saffron one. At least the majority of the minority community does not wish to accept this jeet ka sehra and wants to continue their BJP bashing and term it as a party which ruthlessly promotes hardcore Hindutva agenda. The stories doing the rounds that Muslim women and youth voted in sizeable numbers for the BJP is being denied or is accepted in very low voices and that too by the educated class only.

“There can only be two reasons for such a huge BJP verdict — the first one being that the BJP rigged the polls through faulty EVM machines or secondly acceptance that the huge mandate that the BJP secured is inclusive of Muslim votes too. There cannot be another reason for this upsurge,” explains Syed Abid Husain, veteran Congressman and poll strategist.

But when Tehelka spoke to two prominent female social activists who have been spearheading the anti-triple Talaq movement in the state they insisted that this is not entirely true and that there is a third and a very important reason for the BJP huge victory and that is a sharp division of Muslim votes between SP-Cong and BSP and the spilt in the Backward votes too.

The promise of BJP to support the triple talaq movement wasn’t responsible for the BJP’s victory, activists admit

According to Tahira Hasan, who works among the poor Muslim women in old city wherein lives a huge population of the Muslims, the call given by two sets of Muslim clerics to vote for two different so called secular parties like Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) of Mayawati and Samajwadi Party –and Congress combo of Akhilesh Yadav and Rahul Gandhi resulted in massive division of Muslim votes.

According to her, the religious pressure from the clerics confused the Muslim voters. While accepting that a sizeable number of Muslims, including women, voted for the BJP the lady denied that the promise of BJP to support the Triple talaq movement was in anyway responsible for this shift and resulted in minority women moving towards the BJP which lead to their unprecedented victory.

Supporting the views of Tahira, Naish insisted that it was not just the division of the Muslim vote but a major shift in the SC-ST vote bank to BJP that resulted in swelling their numbers.

“While from the committed vote bank of Mayawati, which had in previous years never shifted base from BSP, only the chamars stayed put with the BSP. Akhilesh Yadav was able to retain only a fraction of the Yadav (highly favored during his rule) with him while all other castes deserted him,” explained Naish.

While both these women maybe right, as they work on ground zero with women of minority community one cannot really deny the psychology shift that led to the grand victory of the BJP.

The 2017 elections will be remembered as one where the minority community was wooed, to a certain extent in a very subtle manner through BJP twin plan poll strategy. While they appeased the majority by not giving a single ticket to a Muslim candidate and ensured that they concentrated their focus on the 80 per cent majority community which lead to a high polarization on religious ground at the same time they continued to woo the minority community on emotional ground, going to the extent of including triple talaq agenda in their poll manifesto. This way they managed to kill two birds with one stone.

The announcement of tickets for 99 Muslim (out of this only 5 won) in its poll list by BSP and 57 by SP (17 took to victory stand, and Congress 22 (two won) only helped to antagonize the majority community further.

The BJP played on this emotional chord well to create the music they wanted. The normal secular Hindu who had nothing against the minority started disliking the appeasement policy seeing it as anti-majority and pro minority. They started visualizing a fair playing field where they also stood firmly and decided to cast their vote enmasse in favour of the BJP. During these elections the BJP Sub ka saath sub ka vikas slogan caught the attention.

This sentiment was expressed by a BJP supporter, student Rajesh when he said with bitterness, “Muslims key liey sub parties hai, Hindu key liey sirf ek,” (all parties are for Muslims and only one for Hindus). The BJP was successful in cashing the secular sentiments of the average Hindu voter and he was happy to vote for BJP which promised them Ram and development at a single platform.

The increase in the polling percentage of youth and women benefitted the BJP further. While for the average youth, irrespective of their caste or religion employment figured above religious or caste politics for the women, including those from the minority, promise of good law and order was a big attraction. Women had been the chief sufferers due to the prevailing lawlessness and they saw BJP as a party that could put an end to this situation.

The poorest of the poor from among the women, irrespective of their caste or religion were sold out on Central government schemes like Ujwala, as it offered immediate succour and helped them break the drudgery of cooking on primitive wood stoves and exposed them to the ease of cooking with LPG.

While one can understand the dilemma of the Muslims and the fear of being persecuted under a regime that has core value as Hindutva it is also the time for them to do an introspection and assess why they have failed to find a strong leader they can support and believe in.

Those who have been doing caste politics must also rethink and make different strategies. Caste politics of one caste is a definite no no. It now has to be politics inclusive of all castes .

But for a while these regional political parties will have to step back, suppress their resentment and loss and accept the verdict of the people and as they are saying in social media just sing along Bura na mano Modi hai.