Gorakhpur, May 7: In the run-up to the crucial polls in eastern UP constituencies, as usual the minorities find themselves at cross roads and are also anguished.Local Muslims in the township and adjoining areas say once BJP came to power in the state in 2017 with a landslide victory, hundreds of young men, were ‘picked up’ by police for one reason or the other.
This seemed to be happening on a regular basis if not daily and thus such a phenomenon has struck fear into homes, especially the helpless mothers and other women kin. “We live in total fear and the women in our villages often wake up at night soaked in perspiration fearing that the police may walk in,” says M Zeenatbi, a home maker.
A young hotel staff in Gorakhpur - also from the minority community - endorses the view and says as far as election results are concerned, "anything can happen". The emergence of the BJP government headed by the local leader Yogi Adityanath has made things worse for them, many say.
Locals recall several incidents in last few years and point out to the clashes reported between various groups – including a few between the minority community and Dalits. The citizens complain that communalism got a boost under Yogi Adityanath especially in the context when the BJP leaders tried to drive home the point that the ‘Gujarat model’ – a synthesis of development and communal mobilisation-- would be implemented in UP too.
Against this backdrop, people attribute BJP’s success in 2014 to the fact that the saffron party campaigners could bring together the upper castes, backward castes and also Dalits as a bloc leading to its massive victory. The specifically crafted ‘minority vote management’ has always helped the saffron party and gave enthusiasm to the Sangh Parivar.There are around 3.75 lakh Muslims in the region and therefore the spotlight is on them.
A local Samajadi Party supporter Iqbal Ansari says, “In 2017 Assembly polls, the BJP strategically did not field Muslim candidates and as BJP did well, the number of Muslim legislators in UP assembly automatically dropped to all time low of 25”. He further explains that failure of Congress and Mahagatbandhan (SP and BSP) to work together present an advantage to the Modi-Yogi camp as opposition parties trying to reach out to the Muslim minority will only result in ‘reverse polarisation’ of Hindus.
This is all the more easy as 80 per cent of Uttar Pradesh’s 20.42 crore population are Hindus. According to a meat dealer Ilyas Jamal Qureshi, “There has been a major fault line in Opposition campaign indiscriminate attacks on Prime Minister Narendra Modi even after Balakot air strikes and the image of ‘corrupt leaders’ in Mahagathbandhan and Congress have only discredited the secular parties.
The BJP is trying to work hard to stop Thakurs and Brahmins to be at loggerheads and hence came in some caste management - winning Nishad leaders and fielding a celebrity. Muslims say they are aware of BJP’s political machinations.
In 2017, they say, the BJP made a conscious decision in choosing Yogi Adityanath. He was not only assigned to rule Uttar Pradesh, but in the process the leadership gave Hindu groups a new generation of leadership. (UNI)