Maya’s Muslim gambit fails to impress riot victims  

Mayawati has given poll ticket to 97 Muslim candidates

MUZAFFARNAGAR : The talk in UP’s political circles is how much of the Muslim vote Mayawati’s Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will get. The question is beginning to ring louder after the boss lady handed 97 party tickets to candidates from the community last week. However, if the victims of the Muzaffarnagar riots of 2013 are any indication, it is Akhilesh Yadav who will get their support.

Muslims constitute 42 per cent of the population in Muzaffar-nagar.
Sixty-five people were killed in the riots and over 50,000 people were hounded out of their homes. Three years on, they still live like refugees in slum-like conditions in resettlement colonies. The riot victims say they would not trust the BSP as it might embrace the BJP in the post-poll scenario.

Also, they remember that Mayawati did not bother to pay a visit to Muzaffarnagar after the riots. “Have you seen Mayawati or other BSP leaders doing anything for riot victims except paying lip service? BSP does not seem to care for Muslims,” said Ghulam Mohiuddin, a riot victim resettled in Shamli.

At another riot-hit village called Phugana, a villager Muhammed Shafiuddin said he remembers that Mayawati chose not to visit Muzaffarnagar. “This is evidence enough to say that the BSP does not care whether we live or die. All these years, she was in Delhi while we were suffering in the refugee camps. Now at election time, she is trying to win our confidence,”  he said.

In another resettlement locality called Loi, Muhammed Saleem said Akhilesh Yadav is the community’s obvious choice although his administration could have done more to help the victims back to their old life. “However, many of us got plots, loans and other assistance from the government. But there are many who are still living without a shelter above their heads. At least Akhilesh Yadav sympathises with us. Other parties like the BSP never bothered,” he says.

Few Muslims in the resettlement localities seemed impressed with Mayawati’s gambit of giving a large share of her party tickets to Muslims. “Yes, she may be giving tickets to Muslims but what if she gets into a post-poll alliance with the BJP? That is not acceptable to us,” said another riot victim Haji Anwar.

Amidst the bigger parties, smaller players like the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (MIM) led by Asaduddin Owaisi also see an opportunity. Grassroots MIM workers are going from village to village trying to urge people not to vote for the Samajwadi Party. However, locals here seem wary of the MIM as there has been speculation that Owaisi is trying to strike a deal with the BSP.

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