By Abdul Bari Masoud
The election campaign for electing new assemblies of Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Manipur, and Goa is underway. However, the UP election is the most important one as its outcome has bearing on national politics. Even the American journal Foreign Policy said in its latest issue that the outcome of the UP election will be immensely consequential for the future of India and its secular democracy.
It is the country’s most populous province which has become the backbone of the BJP’s power. With a total population of around 241 million, the province has over 43 million Muslims, or over 20 percent of the population. This province is also home to Aligarh Muslim University, Darul Uloom Deoband, Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, and Mazahir-ul-Uloom and landmarks related to the community.
Because voting is typically influenced by caste and community, the data show that Dalits account for 21.1 percent (of which Jatav Dalits account for 9%), other “backward” castes account for 44 percent (of which Yadavs account for 9%), and “upper” castes account for 16 percent (Brahmin 10 percent). In some ways, Muslims are the state’s most populous group but they are witnessing political marginalisation.
However, since the rise of Hindutva right-wing forces in the country and in UP, the country’s second-largest religious group has been on the receiving end and facing hardship in every sphere of life. To top it all, Modi’s ill-advised move to demonetize Rs 500 and 1000 notes in November 2016 just before the 2017 elections shattered the backs of Muslim artisans and craftsmen in the state, who are still reeling from the financial shock. UP has long been known for its artisans and craftspeople that have been supported by successive state governments as they are one of the state’s key sources of revenue.
In his article Sumit Ganguly, columnist at Foreign Policy said “The state has long had some of the worst social indicators in the country, and matters certainly have not improved since Adityanath assumed office in March 2017. Instead of focusing on socioeconomic development, he has spent the bulk of his energy demonizing Muslims and other minorities, building Hindu temples while caricaturing previous governments for ostensibly pampering Muslims, and squandering the state’s limited revenues on populist schemes, even as the state faces significant budgetary shortfalls”.
In every major city of Uttar Pradesh, where Muslims were dominant in a big industry. Today all those industries are either dying or have gone out of the hands of Muslims. Leather in Kanpur, bangles in Firozabad, brass utensils in Moradabad, chikan embroidery in Lucknow, knives from Rampur, antimony from Bareilly, perfume from Kannauj, sarees from Banaras, handicrafts in Saharanpur, locks of Aligarh and scissors from Meerut. I used to be famous and in each of these industries, Muslims were ahead, they were its best artisans, but gradually the government, by conspiracy, planning, snatched these industries from the Muslims. Even the weaving and dyeing of cloth, which were associated with the pure Muslims, are today under the control of non-Muslims.
Muslims were the best artisans in each of these manufacturing, but the government conspired and systematically snatched these industries from the Muslims. Non-Muslims now control the weaving and dyeing work that used to belong to ony Muslims. Non-Muslims even make up the majority of meat traders and exporters.
A report released by the All India Majlis Ittihadul-Muslimeen in Lucknow on January7 has some eye-opening data on the conditions Muslims in Uttar Pradesh. There is no respected department in which Muslims are ahead of any other community. They are far behind even Dalits in education, health, business, agriculture, and government employment. The jails, on the other hand, are exceeded their population. It’s not that clever Muslims aren’t present; there are several large Darul-Ulooms in the state. Most of the leaders of Muslim organizations are from this state, yet Muslims continue to sink more into backwardness with each passing day.
There are also statistics related to employment. These figures have been obtained from government reports. A person’s happiness is assessed by his expenditure rather than his income. A Muslim in the state spends only Rs 752 per month, while a family in the country spends Rs 988 per month. That instance, a family of four spends Rs 25 every day. The average monthly wage in the country is 31.6 percent, whereas Muslims in Uttar Pradesh get 25.6 percent. Wages in the service industry are similarly affected. The Muslims of UP have an average of 27.3%, whereas in the whole country this average is 32.2%. This means that Muslims of Uttar Pradesh are at the bottom of the low income category.
Muslims made up 44.7 percent of the agriculture sector in 1993-94, but only 36.5 percent in 2009-10, according to a report. In Uttar Pradesh, however, the ratio of Dalits is 51.4 percent while the percentage of OBC non-Muslims is 65.5 percent in the same sector.
In 2009-10, the state’s Dalits made up 24.8 percent of the construction workforce, while Muslims made up only 10.3 percent. In fact, 48.5 percent of Muslims do not even own a home. Representation in government services is a key metric for measuring a community’s status. It also brings happiness and strength to humans. It is well known that Muslims have a low representation in government jobs as a result of the policy of treating them as second-class citizens in terms of education and unofficial job discrimination.
According to a study, the percentage of OBC Muslims employed in public employment is substantially lower than their demographic proportion. Non-Muslim OBCs such as Yadavs, Kurmis, and Jats, on the other hand, enjoy OBC quota. Similarly, the Jain, Buddhist, and Sikh communities take use of official exemptions in the name of minorities. According to government records, the UPPSC picked 521 candidates in 2015, with only 19 (or 3.65 percent) of them being Muslims.
In the case of subordinate services, only 31 (or 2.01%) of the 1545 candidates chosen in 2013 were Muslims. The same scenario can be found in the case of university professors. Only 57, or 3.11 percent, of the 1834 university professors working at state universities were Muslims Only 4.69 percent of the 727 Assistant Professors selected by the UP Higher Education Commission were Muslims, with only 149 seats earmarked for OBCs.
Muslims are the largest group of migrants seeking employment outside the state. According to a survey, 51% of all migrants in Uttar Pradesh are Muslims. This means that Muslim migrants outnumber their population by three to one. Obviously, going out is only necessary when one is unable to find work at home. When Muslims pack up and leave to work in high-ranking positions, it is a good indicator, but when they leave to work in a small business or as a labourer, it is a bad omen. Small employees and labourers from other states, for example, work in Mumbai and Delhi.
Banks play an important role in economic activities. Banking facilities are also scarce in Muslim areas. For example, Sambhal and Balrampur, where there are the highest concentrations of Muslims, have the lowest number of banks. Then banks have blacklisted some Muslim areas. No one is questioning why banks refuse to give loans to Muslims in these areas; and ATM machines are also scarce in Muslim areas.
Governments have also acted with bias in connecting Muslim settlements with highways. Muslim localities have also been kept away from new manufacturing units and factories. All of these things are done to ensure that if a Muslim is unemployed, he will remain impoverished and so a slave.
At political level, before the 2017 assembly elections there were around 67 Muslim MLAs in the UP legislative assembly that strength was reduced to 24 in the present assembly. A look at what happened in the last elections held in 2017 gives a sad reading. Out of 403 UP assembly seats, there are 140 seats having Muslim votes ranging between 20 to 70 percent. A total 172 Muslim candidates were fielded by the main stream parties in the 2017 election out of which 24 were won while 84 were runners and 64 were placed at third position. It means that multiplicity of Muslim contestants has caused much damaged to their representation in the assembly. There were two Muslim rival candidates at least in 34 assembly constituencies with sizable Muslim presence and out of these nine Muslims won and rest went into the kitty of BJP. Samajwadi party 8, Bahujan Samaj Party 3, Congress 2 and Apna Dal won 1 seat respectively from these 140 seats while the lion share went to the BJP which won 107 seats wherein only single Muslim candidate from main stream secular parties was in the fray.
Dr Tasleem Ahmad Rahmani, chairman Muslim Political Council of India said the so-called secular parties were much to blames for the BJP’s win on these 107 seats as the margin of defeat was mere 0.5% to 3% votes. Asking who helped BJP to secure 312 seats in the last election, Dr Rahmani said the secular parties should stop bemoaning about the division of Muslim votes and put their house in order. This time, it seems that, secular parties wary of Muslim votes while several Muslim-led parties including the All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen ( AIMIM) have jumped in the fray.
The Muslim voters in the state seem to be in a bother of dilemma as on the one side there are smaller Muslim-led parties contesting in alliance or separately while Samajwadi party and BSP the other two claimants of their votes did not come to their rescue during the Yogi’s role of five years.
How can this situation be changed, is the moot question. The SP had promised, but despite being in the government for five years, it did not even open its mouth on the reservation of Muslims. If Muslims strengthen their leadership politically, then they can force the coming government to do justice with them.