too voted for Nitish Kumar's development plank
Thursday November 25, 2010 06:55:29 PM,
Imran Khan, IANS
Saba Zafar has become the first Muslim to be elected as a
legislator from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Bihar. The new
Bihar assembly will see an increase in Muslim representation -
from 15 to 19, including two women.
Parween Amanullah and Razia Khatoon are the two Muslim women
elected to the state assembly. They belong to the ruling Janata
Dal-United (JD-U) and the BJP respectively. It is for the first
time that the Bihar assembly will have two Muslim women members.
Way back in 1985, Bihar had a lone Muslim woman legislator.
Saba won from the Muslim-dominated Amaur assembly constituency. He
was the only Muslim candidate of the BJP to contest the assembly
polls and win. "Muslims preferred a BJP Muslim candidate to
strengthen the hands of Nitish Kumar," Matin Ahmad, a businessman,
Saba is also a relative of controversial former central minister
Mohammad Taslimuddin, who joined the JD-U a few months ago after
resigning from the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) to work for Nitish
Kumar's development agenda.
This time Muslim representation has increased from 15 to 19,
despite the fact that most of the sitting Muslim legislators have
failed to retain their seats. Of the 15 Muslim legislators who
fought the elections, only five could win.
"Development plank seems to have helped the Muslim community to
increase its representation as the Bihar assembly will have more
Muslim legislators than the outgoing one," Bhattoo Khan, a
resident of Haroon Colony in Patna, said.
Interestingly, Parween Amanullah and Razia Khatoon defeated the
Rashtriya Janata Dal candidates belonging to the Yadav caste.
"This shows that the Muslim-Yadav (MY) equation of RJD chief Lalu
Prasad has cracked," Balal Khan, a government official, said.
Parween defeated Narain Yadav in Sahebpur Kamal assembly
constitueny and Razia defeated Manoj Kumar Yadav in Kalyanpur
assembly seat. "If Muslims had voted for Lalu Prasad's RJD, both
Parween and Razia would have been defeated. Their victory is a
clear indication that Muslims voted for Nitish's JD-U," said Imam
Ali, a JD-U worker.
Parween, in her late 40s, is the daughter of
diplomat-turned-politician Syed Shahabuddin - the man who
championed the cause of Babri Masjid for Muslims.
Shahabuddin had countered the BJP-led campaign to build a Ram
temple at the disputed Ayodhya site. Syed Shahabuddin is the
president of the All India Muslim Majlis-e-Mushawarat (AIMMM) and
convenor of the Babri Masjid Movement Coordination Committee (BMMCC).
Moreover, Parween's husband Afzal Amanullah is an Indian
Administrative Service (IAS) officer who had reportedly mapped
senior BJP leader L.K. Advani's arrest in Bihar during his Rath
Yatra to Ayodhya in 1990.
Of the 19 Muslim legislators this time, maximum 7 are from the JD-U,
one from the BJP, 6 from the RJD and 2 from its ally Lok Jan
Shakti Party, and 3 from the Congress. Interestingly, three of the
four Congress legislators are Muslims. Similarly 2 of the 3 LJP
legislators too are Muslims.
Political watchers say that Nitish Kumar was the first choice
among Muslims for the slew of minority welfare schemes his
government launched in the last five years, despite strong
reservations of ally BJP.
"Nitish Kumar made inroads into the Muslim community by re-opening
of the infamous Bhagalpur riots cases and conviction of the
accused by speedy trials. Besides, Bihar remained free from
communal trouble and Nitish always sent a strong message that he
will not compromise on secularism despite sharing power with the
BJP," Maulana Ghulam Rasool Balyavi, a JD-U leader, said.
According to official figures available, 35 Muslim candidates of
different parties ended up in the second position behind the
Sorror Ahmad, a political analyst, said that Muslim votes were
divided among four main political parties - RJD, LJP, JD-U and
Congress. In some constituencies, Muslims also voted for Left
parties. "The case of Amoaur where Saba Zafar of the BJP won is
rare because Muslims by and large still prefer not to vote for the
BJP," he said.
In the six-phase Bihar assembly polls, the Congress fielded 46
Muslim candidates followed by the RJD with 26 Muslims. The JD-U
fielded 14 Muslim candidates, the LJP 10 and the BJP only one.
About 16.5 percent of Bihar's 83 million population is Muslim. The
community has sizeable populations in dozens of assembly
constituencies in Kishanganj, Purnea, Araria, Katihar, Madhubani,
Sitamarhi, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Siwan and Katihar.
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