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Collaboration and cooperation is way forward – Muhammad Ahmad of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind

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The massive win for the Bhartiya Janta Party (BJP) in UP has shocked secular forces. Muslims too are feeling extremely disappointed about the UP election results 2017. The BJP that had less than 50 seats in the assembly has been catapulted to power with unprecedented majority in the house. The saffron party has won around 320 seats, taking the entire political spectrum by surprise. There is no denying that like everyone else Muslims of the state and beyond are in a state of shock.

The BJP hadn’t given a single seat to Muslims in the state. This was apparently to send a signal to its constituents that the party hadn’t forgotten its basic agenda. While the saffron party didn’t give any ticket to Muslims in a state with 200 million population, in Manipur it had a Muslim candidate that fought on the party’s symbol.

muhammad ahmad JIH

Muslim representation in the state assembly has nosedived. From 68 Muslim MLAs, there are only 25 Muslim MLAs in the new assembly. ViewsHeadlines’ Executive editor Syed Ubaidur Rahman talked to Jamaat-e-Islami Hind’s national secretary Mohammad Ahmad. Here are excerpts:

Are you disappointed with the UP election results?
Yes. Like everyone I am also disappointed as the secular parties got decimated. In the process, it they have been marginalized in the state. But it is a democratic country and elections are fought and won by different political parties. That said, no one saw this mandate for the BJP government coming as there was no indication of the party winning so handsomely in the state that had government by regional parties in recent past.

Are you disappointed by low number of Muslims in assembly?
Definitely. Everyone is disappointed. From one of the highest number of Muslims in the state assembly, the largest state will have lowest number of Muslim MLAs in the history of the state. This is disappointing. Political representation strengthens different sections of the population at different levels. The lack of it weakens them at local levels and having fewer Muslim representatives in the state assembly will definitely have its impact.

What are the causes of the complete decimation of secular parties in the state?
We are analyzing the outcome of the elections in Uttar Pradesh. While BSP chief Mayawati and SP’s Akhilesh Yadav have spoken about the electronic voting machines as a likely cause of the loss for them, the lack of a broad-based secular alliance was a major reason for their loss in the state. A Bihar type mahagathbandhan or grand alliance of SP, BSP and the Congress would have very different outcome, had it materialized anyhow.

Another reason may be the BJP’s shrewd planning at local level. This increased their vote share in the state to close to 40 percent.

Congress party seems to have considerably weakened and this election proves it once again. The party is not able to take control despite being in driver’s seat. This was all the more evident in Manipur and Goa where it had beaten the BJP in the assembly elections. On the contrary, the BJP leadership has proved to be more effective.

What is the future has in store in UP and elsewhere with the BJP gaining absolute majority everywhere?
While the BJP will try to implement its ideology, Indian secularism and democratic system has a strong foundation. Therefore, there is very remote possibility that it will be able to tamper with the nation’s democratic and secular system. Prime Minister had a reconciliatory tone during the speech following the massive win. I am sure, party will like to take everyone onboard to develop the nation and move ahead.

If they have to be in power for long, they need to provide a judicious government and provide justice and equality to people of all backgrounds. They will have to treat everyone as a family if they are here for a long haul. Otherwise, they cannot be in power for long.

What should be Muslims strategy post UP debacle?
The loss hasn’t been caused by Muslims, notwithstanding the fact that their votes were divided between the SP and the BSP. But even if the entire Muslim vote would have gone to either of them – that is anyhow unlikely – these parties still wouldn’t have stood a chance as BJP’s vote share was too high. The BJP’s vote share was close to double than the two parties’ respective vote share. So the blame shouldn’t go to Muslims.

But Muslim voters should have vote more judiciously. Muslims should support candidates based on their integrity and their past performances. The division of Muslim votes among different parties played a major role, and this is a major cause for the Muslim MLAs number going down to its historic low.

As far as strategy is concerned, Muslims should work on long term goals of education and employment, besides increasing their interaction with other communities and taking them along. Cooperation and collaboration is the way forward for the community. There is also need for Muslims trying to clear misgivings spread relentlessly by media and others.

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