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Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Uttar Pradesh. Sort by date Show all posts
Showing posts sorted by relevance for query Uttar Pradesh. Sort by date Show all posts

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Caste politics come full circle in India

By Sudha Ramachandran

Upper-caste Brahmins, whose relevance in the electoral arena dwindled over the past few decades thanks to their relatively small numbers, are wielding significant influence in the general elections scheduled for next month. In fact, the master strategists and spin doctors of the main political parties in the poll fray are Brahmin.

"Most of the country's political strategists and backroom boys - those running the country's political war rooms, advising party leaders, drawing up electoral battle plans, negotiating tricky alliances, crunching numbers or just working on slogans and spin - are from among the 'twice-born' [Brahmins]," said Smita Gupta in an article in the newsmagazine Outlook.

Jairam Ramesh, the election coordinator of Congress - the lead party in the ruling coalition - and author of several of its policy documents, is Brahmin. As is the chief election strategist of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Arun Jaitley. Orissa chief minister and president of the Bharatiya Janata Dal Navin Patnaik's chief advisor is Pyarimohan Mohapatra, a Brahmin. So is the spokesperson of the Janata Dal-Secular, Y S V Dutta. Even the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), a party of low-caste Dalits (the former "untouchables"), has a Brahmin, Satish Chandra Mishra, as its chief strategist.

What is more, the Brahmin vote is being assiduously courted by the BSP in the electorally crucial state of Uttar Pradesh. The party has given a fifth of the seats it is contesting in Uttar Pradesh to Brahmin candidates. Of the 80 seats up for grabs in Uttar Pradesh, 20 have been given to Brahmins as against 17 for Dalits. In the 2004 general election, the BSP fielded just eight Brahmin candidates.

Traditionally employed as priests, scholars and teachers, Brahmins are at the top of India's caste hierarchy. But constituting roughly 5% of the population - in several states especially in southern India they account for a mere 1-3% of the population - their electoral clout has been limited. This has been further circumscribed by the assertion of the Other Backward Castes (OBCs) in the country's politics.

Many will argue that Brahmin influence in the power structure never diminished. Indeed, despite reservations for Dalits and OBCs, India's bureaucracy is significantly Brahmin. Many Brahmins figure among advisors to ministers and top officials in various departments. According to the Backward Classes Commission, Brahmins account for 37% of the bureaucracy.

While their presence in the bureaucracy is significant, Brahmins had become near non-entities in the electoral arena. Although several prime ministers were of Brahmin origin, the number of Brahmins in parliament declined steadily over the decades. The present Lok Sabha (Lower House of parliament), for instance, has only 50 Brahmin MPs - 9.17% of the total strength of the house, down from 19.91% in 1984.

While a head count of Brahmin voters, candidates or MPs would not amount to much, their numbers among the party strategists and spin doctors is significant. And several parties are eyeing the Brahmin vote in what is likely to be a close election and are fashioning their strategies with that in mind.

Take the BSP for instance. Its leader, Mayawati, who is the chief minister of Uttar Pradesh, was once notorious for spewing venom on Brahmins and other upper castes. Her rallying cry was "Tilak, Tarazu aur Talwar, inko maaro joote chaar" (Thrash the Brahmin, the Bania and the Rajput with shoes). But in recent years she has been aggressively wooing Brahmins. And Mishra, her Brahmin advisor-cum-strategist is at the forefront of this courting of the community.

In the 2007 assembly elections in Uttar Pradesh, the BSP joined hands with the Brahmins. The Dalit-Brahmin alliance propelled the BSP to power.

While this was not the first time that the BSP formed a government or the first time a Dalit woman had become chief minister, the BSP's 2007 victory was historic as it was able to form a government on its own. And that had become possible because of the crucial support it received from Brahmins in the elections.

What prompted Mayawati to reach out to Brahmins? Caste arithmetic. The BSP has the support of the Dalits in Uttar Pradesh - it is sure of 21% of the vote in the state. But this meant only 100 seats or a fourth of the 403-seat assembly. It needed to draw in support from other castes and communities to come to power. With the OBCs unlikely to vote for Dalits - it is the OBCs that are the main oppressors of Dalits today and are in daily contact and conflict with them - Mayawati looked to the Brahmins.

As for the Brahmins, lacking a party to support - the BJP, which has traditionally attracted their votes, is in disarray in Uttar Pradesh - they accepted the BSP's hand.

With the Dalit-Brahmin alliance proving to be rewarding in the 2007 Uttar Pradesh assembly election, Mayawati is now replicating that strategy for the general elections. And it is not just in Uttar Pradesh that she is reaching out to Brahmins. Brahmins figure among her party's candidates in other states such as Madhya Pradesh and Maharashtra as well.

The party that is the most agitated by the BSP's wooing of Brahmins is the BJP, which has traditionally drawn the Brahmin vote. But BJP sources say that outside Uttar Pradesh, Brahmins will continue to vote for its candidates. The Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh, the Hindu organization that provides the BJP with its ideological moorings, is overwhelmingly Brahmin and its cadres are fanning out across the country to win support for the BJP.

While the Brahmin vote is being assiduously courted in Uttar Pradesh, this is not the case in south India where the Brahmins are numerically insignificant and politically marginal. But even here, a Brahmin woman, Jayalalithaa, has dominated one of the leading parties in Tamil Nadu and even became its chief minister.

For centuries, kings derived their legitimacy from the ritual investiture of their Brahmin priests. Brahmins played the role of advisors to kings. While the kings were hardly puppets in the hands of the Brahmins, the latter did wield immense influence and power.

Things changed in Independent India after 1947. The numerically insignificant Brahmin became politically irrelevant. But their influence in the electoral arena is growing again. Their vote in the larger states matters. Today political parties are looking to Brahmins to plot and strategize their victory in the polls.

The Brahmins, it seems, are back in the political game.

Wednesday, July 06, 2016

Analysis: Cabinet Reshuffle Is Aimed At UP Polls, But What If It Backfires?

By M H AHSSAN | INNLIVE

Recent Union Cabinet reshuffle - or 'expansion' as Prime Minister Narendra Modi likes to call it - threw up many clues for the poll-bound Uttar Pradesh.

Election analysts and poll pundits have already called the latest change in Modi's Council of Ministers an act of balancing caste and regional equations. Tuesday's expansion of the Union Cabinet is being touted as Modi's biggest political moves since he acquired the top office since May 2014.

Friday, February 07, 2014

'Uttar Pradesh To Decide Who Rules At Centre In 2014'

By Sofia Razzack | Lucknow

ELECTION 2014 SURVEY It's not called the heartland for nothing. With its 80 seats, Uttar Pradesh is the key to the 16th Lok Sabha. Be it Narendra Modi, or Rahul Gandhi, or even Mulayam Singh Yadav, India's next prime minister will need to deliver a victory in Uttar Pradesh to gain the numbers needed for triumph.

Uttar Pradesh has always been the controlling state as far as the Indian polity is concerned. The recent past has, however, seen a reverse swing in the polity. Between 1996 and 1998 Uttar Pradesh was firmly with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) but it could not hold the Centre despite a third of its vote share coming from this one state.

Tuesday, April 01, 2014

Netas' Sons, Daughters Contesting Above 50 Seat In India

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

ELECTIONS 2014 At least 50 parliamentary constituencies will be contested by 'sons and daughters' of politicians. From President Pranab Mukherjee’s son Abhijit to Rahul and Varun Gandhi, at least 50 parliamentary constituencies will be contested by ‘sons and daughters’ of politicians of various parties during the upcoming Lok Sabha polls. Of these, a majority of candidates have been fielded from the ruling Congress party.

Abhijit Mukherjee, a sitting MP, is contesting on a Congress ticket from his present Jangipur (West Bengal) constituency while Rahul Gandhi and Varun Gandhi are fighting from Amethi and Pilibhit constituencies in Uttar Pradesh, respectively.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Actor & Politician Raj Babbar Appointed As A New Congress Chief In Uttar Pradesh: A Close Look At His Political Career

By LIKHAVEER | INNLIVE

Fortune favours the brave, goes the adage. And how befitting it is to veteran actor Raj Babbar, who was appointed as the Congress chief of Uttar Pradesh, ahead of the state's Assembly polls in 2017. Not too long ago, Babbar was a star campaigner in the Assam Assembly election this year, which saw the end of the 15-year-old rule of former chief minister Tarun Gogoi, making way for the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government in North East India.

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Telangana: Inevitable And Desirable

The HNN has argued editorially that a just and sustainable solution to the Telangana issue can be found within an undivided Andhra Pradesh. 

In the winter of 1953, the Fazal Ali Commission was set up to reorganise the States of the Indian Republic. Its recommendation to go about creating States on linguistic lines, indirectly paved the way for the creation of Andhra Pradesh. Andhra was formed from the northern districts of the erstwhile Madras state and the southern districts of the erstwhile Hyderabad state — though the committee itself did not advocate such a merger and was against it.

Fifty-six winters later, the very concept of the creation of States based on linguistic lines has become passé. We need to look for fresh parameters for the creation of States, and that has to be based on holistic development on economic and social lines for better administration and management. This fact has been proven with the creation of Chhattisgarh from Madhya Pradesh, Jharkhand from Bihar and Uttaranchal from Uttar Pradesh.

Two issues that seem to be at the centre of the contention between the two regions of Andhra Pradesh is the future of Hyderabad and the repercussions in terms of the sharing of river waters from the completed and planned irrigation projects after the division of the State. Any entity, political or otherwise, that is able to find pragmatic solutions to this conundrum would not only earn the respect of the people of the State but also help set a precedent in the matter of contentious State divisions in the future.

Economics of small States
The case for small States can be argued with two parameters of macroeconomic statistics from the Ministry of Statistics and Programme Implementation. The first parameter is the percentage increase in Gross Domestic Product for States between 1999-2000, when the smaller States were created, and 2007-2008. India’s overall GDP increased by 75 per cent during this time period. During the same period, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Uttaranchal recorded more than 100 per cent, 150 per cent and 180 per cent increase respectively. These rates were much above the rate at which national GDP increased. This clearly indicates that the recent creation of smaller States was a step in the right direction.

Experts have often argued that the creation of smaller States has been at the expense of the States they were created from. For all its lack of governance, Uttar Pradesh grew by more than 21 per cent of the national average during this time period.

The second parameter, the percentage contribution of States to national GDP, helps negate the myth of smaller States growing at the expense of the States they are created from. Uttar Pradesh, Bihar and Madhya Pradesh each contributed the same amount to national GDP. While the contributions of Bihar and Madhya Pradesh increased by 0.01 per cent and 0.06 per cent respectively, Uttar Pradesh’s contribution to national GDP increased by 1.2 per cent during the same time period. This is more than Chhattisgarh’s percentage increase in the contribution of 0.64 per cent to national GDP, the highest increase among the three newly created smaller States.

Capital politics
Hyderabad is an integral part of Telangana and a Telangana State without Hyderabad as the capital is inconceivable. However, the militant rhetoric of some political parties has made people of other areas feel unwelcome, creating an air of mistrust among the Telugu-speaking people of various regions. This is not only constitutionally illegal but also extremely foolish as it affects the image of Brand Hyderabad. Everybody who has come to Hyderabad in search of a better quality of life must be protected. Rhetorical slogans such as Telangana waalon jaago, Andhra waalon bhago gives the impression of an exclusionist movement that forces people of the non-Telangana region of Andhra Pradesh out of Hyderabad rather than a movement where the people of Telangana want greater autonomy for their region. 

Significantly, when Maharashtra and Gujarat were created from the then Bombay state on the recommendation of the States Reorganisation Commission, there was fear about Mumbai losing its importance as a financial nerve-centre as a lot of investment in Mumbai had been made by Gujarati business people. The creation of two separate States did not halt Mumbai’s rapid development. In fact, it additionally paved the way for the development of Ahmedabad and Surat as alternative financial centres. Hyderabad can emulate the same model. As in the past 400 years, the city can continue to welcome people with open arms rather than close its gates to fresh talent and creative ideas.

The people of the Andhra and Rayalaseema regions feel that the benefits reaped from Hyderabad must be accessible to all those who have been equal stakeholders in the city’s development. The solution to this is not alternative models such as according Hyderabad the status of a Union Territory or making Hyderabad a joint capital for the States carved out of present-day Andhra Pradesh. These solutions are just not practical. A better approach would be to plan a special financial package for the development of a new State capital for the non-Telangana region. Pragmatism would dictate that the special package be funded through some form of cess on the city of Hyderabad for a limited period rather than running to large financial institutions for loans, as has been proposed by some political entities.

Social dynamics of water
About 70 per cent of the catchment area of the Krishna and close to 80 per cent of the catchment area of the Godavari is located in the Telangana region. Across the world, water distribution and sharing schemes between two areas is calculated on the basis of the percentage of the catchment area that lies in the region. Other factors that influence water-sharing accords is the population of a given region, the projected usage of water for industry and the domestic population, and the physical contours of the region through which the river flows.

Take the instance of the Godavari, where the areas planned for large dams in the Telangana have not been found feasible for various reasons. As the Sriramsagar project on the Godavari already exists, it is not feasible to build another large dam on the Godavari until after the Pranahitha tributary joins the Godavari. There is not enough water to be harnessed on a continuous basis for the project to be economically feasible if the dam is built before the Pranahitha joins the main river. The Inchampally project, a national project whose benefits are to be shared between the States of Andhra Pradesh, Maharashtra and Chhattisgarh, was one such large project that was proposed. Though the project was conceived a long time ago, it has run into typical issues that are usually associated with projects that have multiple States as stakeholders. 

Though Andhra Pradesh, by large, is the main beneficiary of the project, the project plan estimates more forest land being submerged in Maharashtra (47.7 per cent) than in Andhra Pradesh (29.9 per cent; all land in Telangana). An equal amount of cultivable land will be submerged in Chhattisgarh (41.8 per cent) and Andhra Pradesh (42.2 per cent; all land in Telangana). And, more villages that belong to Maharashtra (100) will be submerged as compared to Andhra Pradesh (65). This has obviously made the other States reluctant to move as quickly as Andhra Pradesh on this project.

The link canal that has been planned between Inchampally and Nagarjuna Sagar that is proposed to irrigate the regions of Telangana in between also involves prohibitive costs as a result of the 107-metre lift that is required for the water to reach the Nagarjuna Sagar. The lift itself will require a separate hydro-electric power project for the project to be feasible. Commonsense and pragmatism would have ensured that a project in Kanthamapalli or Kaleswaram be pursued. Additionally, three smaller step- dams between Yellampalli and Sriramsagar must be devised with a realistic State-level river-interlinking plan. Inchampally is not an exception, but the trend in how political leaders across the aisle in Telangana have been caught up in the big-projects-to-line-my-pockets mentality at the cost of the development of the region by looking at smaller, realistic projects to execute.

The finale
The Telangana agitation is the only such movement in India that involves a capital city located in the region that is fighting for separation from the main State. This clearly reflects on the lack of governance and civic administration in this area as the benefits of having a State capital in the hinterland have not trickled down to other areas in that region.

Smaller States still need a good and vibrant administration to be recipes for success. Chhattisgarh is a fine example of how an effective administration could turn around a State in all aspects of development. The development that has happened in the Chhattisgarh region from Independence till 2000 has in fact been less than the development that has taken place from the time a new State was created in 2000 till now. The first Telangana Chief Minister would have done a great service to the infant State should he take a prescription from Chhattisgarh’s most famous Ayurvedic doctor.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Focus: Mango, The 'King Of Fruit' Is Now In Indian Markets

By Dabu Sadaf | INNLIVE

SPECIAL REPORT Summer in India for foodies is synonymous with the mango season. In our country, each state boasts of different varieties of mangoes, all hailed as delicacies. Some are meant to be eaten ripe, while others are best eaten when they're green and raw.

While this season starts as early as the last weeks of March, it is only around the last week of April that the many varieties make their entry in the fruit bazaars across the country. This season lasts up to the end of June. In certain areas, it lasts up to the first week of August.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

Eat Your Way With These 14 Varieties Of Indian Mangoes

It’s that time of year when everything is bathed in a warm, fuzzy, honey glow and there’s a sweet fragrance in the air. That might be partly due to summer setting in across India but it’s also because the best (and India’s national) fruit is making the rounds. 

For most Indians, summer is synonymous with mangoes; climbing trees to pluck those sunshine-coloured fruits or watching our grannies prepare mango pickles for the year. Mangoes are a habit that many of us find hard to give up.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The fear of Hindu Rashtra: Should Muslims keep away from electoral politics?

After Uttar Pradesh election results, Muslim community debates whether their very presence in the political arena has become problematic for Hindus.

Four months before the Uttar Pradesh election results sent Muslims in India reeling in shock, former Rajya Sabha MP Mohammed Adeeb delivered a speech in Lucknow, which, in hindsight, might be called prescient.

“If Muslims don’t wish to have the status of slaves, if they don’t want India to become a Hindu rashtra, they will have to keep away from electoral politics for a while and, instead, concentrate on education,” Adeeb told an audience comprising mostly members of the Aligarh Muslim University’s Old Boys Association.

It isn’t that Adeeb wanted Muslims to keep away from voting. His aim was to have Muslim intellectuals rethink the idea of contesting elections, of disabusing them of the notion that it is they who decide which party comes to power in Uttar Pradesh.

Adeeb’s suggestion, that is contrary to popular wisdom, had his audience gasping. This prompted him to explain his suggestion in greater detail.

“We Muslims chose in 1947 not to live in the Muslim rashtra of Pakistan,” he said. “It is now the turn of Hindus to decide whether they want India to become a Hindu rashtra or remain secular. Muslims should understand that their very presence in the electoral fray leads to a communal polarisation. Why?”

Not one to mince words, Adeeb answered his question himself.

“A segment of Hindus hates the very sight of Muslims,” he said. “Their icon is Narendra Modi. But 75% of Hindus are secular. Let them fight out over the kind of India they want. Muslim candidates have become a red rag to even secular Hindus who rally behind the Bharatiya Janata Party, turning every election into a Hindu-Muslim one.”

Later in the day, Adeeb met Congress leader Ghulam Nabi Azad, who was in Lucknow. To Adeeb, Azad asked, “Why did you deliver such a speech?”

It was now Azad’s turn to get a mouthful from Adeeb. He recalled asking Azad: “What kind of secularism is that which relies on 20% of Muslim votes? The Bahujan Samaj Party gets a percentage of it, as do the Samajwadi Party and the Congress.”

At this, Azad invited Adeeb, who was elected to the Rajya Sabha from Uttar Pradesh, to join the Congress. Adeeb rebuffed the offer saying, “First get the secular Hindus together before asking me to join.”

Spectre of a Hindu rashtra
A day after the Uttar Pradesh election results sent a shockwave through the Muslim community, Adeeb was brimming with anger. He said, “Syed Ahmed Bukhari [the so-called Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid] came to me with a question: ‘Why aren’t political parties courting me for Muslim votes?’ I advised him to remain quiet, to not interfere in politics.” Nevertheless, Bukhari went on to announce that Muslims should vote the Bahujan Samaj Party.

“Look at the results,” Adeeb said angrily. “But for Jatavs, Yadavs, and a segment of Jats, most Hindus voted [for] the Bharatiya Janata Party.” His anger soon segued into grief and he began to sob, “I am an old man. I don’t want to die in a Hindu rashtra.”

Though Adeeb has been nudging Muslims to rethink their political role through articles in Urdu newspapers, the churn among them has only just begun. It is undeniably in response to the anxiety and fear gripping them at the BJP’s thumping victory in this politically crucial state.

After all, Uttar Pradesh is the site where the Hindutva pet projects of cow-vigilantism, love jihad, and ghar wapsi have been executed with utmost ferocity. All these come in the backdrop of the grisly 2013 riots of Muzaffarnagar, which further widened the Hindu-Muslim divide inherited from the Ram Janmabhoomi movement of the 1990s and even earlier, from Partition. Between these two cataclysmic events, separated by 45 years, Uttar Pradesh witnessed manifold riots, each shackling the future to the blood-soaked past.

I spoke to around 15 Muslims, not all quoted here, each of whom introspected deeply. So forbidding does the future appear to them that none even alluded to the steep decline in the number of Muslim MLAs, down from the high of 69 elected in 2012 to just 24 in the new Uttar Pradesh Assembly.

They, in their own ways, echoed Adeeb, saying that the decline in representation of Muslims was preferable to having the Sangh Parivar rule over them with the spectre of Hindutva looming.

“Muslims need to become like the Parsis or, better still, behave the way the Chinese Indians do in Kolkata,” said poet Munawwar Rana. “They focus on dentistry or [their] shoe business, go out to vote on polling day and return to work.”

He continued: “And Muslims?” They hold meetings at night, cook deghs (huge vessels) of biryani, and work themselves into a frenzy. “They think the burden of secularism rests on their shoulders,” said Rana. “Educate your people and make them self-reliant.”

Readers would think Adeeb, Rana and others are poor losers, not generous enough to credit the BJP’s overwhelming victory in Uttar Pradesh to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s development programme. In that case readers should listen to Sudhir Panwar, the Samajwadi Party candidate from Thana Bhawan in West Uttar Pradesh, who wrote last week on the communal polarisation he experienced during his campaign.

In Thana Bhawan, there were four principal candidates – Suresh Rana, accused in the Muzaffarnagar riots, stood on the BJP ticket; Javed Rao on the Rashtriya Lok Dal’s; Abdul Rao Waris on the Bahujan Samaj Party’s, and Panwar on the Samajwadi Party’s. It was thought that the anger of Jats against the BJP would prevent voting on religious lines in an area where the Muslim-Hindu divide runs deep.

This perhaps prompted Rana to play the Hindu card, and the Muslims who were more inclined to the Rashtriya Lok Dal switched their votes to the Bahujan Samaj Party, believing that its Dalit votes would enhance the party’s heft to snatch Thana Bhawan.

Communal polarisation
Sample how different villages voted along communal lines.

In the Rajput-dominated Hiranwada, the Bahujan Samaj Party bagged 14 votes, the Rashtriya Lok Dal not a single vote, the Samajwadi Party seven, and the Bharatiya Janata Party a whopping 790.

In Bhandoda, a village where the Brahmins are landowners and also dominate its demography, followed by Dalits, the Bahujan Samaj Party secured 156 votes, the Rashtriya Lok Dal zero, the Samajwadi Party nine, and the Bharatiya Janata Party 570.

In the Muslim-dominated Jalalabad, the Bahujan Samaj Party received 453 votes, the Rashtriya Lok Dal 15, the Samajwadi Party 6 and the Bharatiya Janata Party 23.

In Pindora, where Jats are 35% and Muslims around 30% of the population, the Bahujan Samaj Party polled 33 votes, the Rashtriya Lok Dal 482, the Samajwadi Party 33, and the Bharatiya Janata Party 278, most of which is said to have come from the lower economically backward castes.

In Devipura, where the Kashyaps are numerous, the Bahujan Samaj Party got 86 votes, the Rashtriya Lok Dal 42, the Samajwadi Party 1 and the Bharatiya Janata Party 433.

In Oudri village, where the Jatavs are in the majority, the Bahujan Samaj Party bagged 343 votes, the Rashtriya Lok Dal 15, the Samajwadi Party 12, and the Bharatiya Janata Party 22.

This voting pattern was replicated in village after village. Broadly, the Jat votes split between the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Rashtriya Lok Dal, the Muslim votes consolidated behind the Bahujan Samaj Party, with the Samajwadi Party getting a slim share in it, the Jatavs stood solidly behind the Bahujan Samaj Party, and all others simply crossed over to the Bharatiya Janata Party. The BJP’s Suresh Rana won the election from Thana Bhawan.

“Can you call this election?” asked Panwar rhetorically. “It is Hindu-Muslim war through the EVM [Electronic Voting Machine].” Panwar went on to echo Adeeb: “I feel extremely sad when I say that Muslims will have to keep away from contesting elections. This seems to be the only way of ensuring that elections don’t turn into a Hindu-Muslim one.”

The Bahujan Samaj Party’s Waris differed. “Is it even practical?” he asked. “But yes, Muslims should keep a low profile.”

Hindu anger against Muslims
For sure, Muslims feel that the binary of secularism-communalism has put them in a bind. Lawyer Mohd Shoaib, who heads the Muslim Rihai Manch, pointed to the irony of it. “For 70 years, we Muslims have fought against communalism,” he said. “But it has, nevertheless, grown by 70 times.”

Indeed, those with historical perspective think Uttar Pradesh of 2017 mirrors the political ambience that existed there between 1938 and 1946 – a seemingly unbridgeable Hindu-Muslim divide, a horrifyingly communalised public discourse, and a contest for power based on mobilisation along religious lines.

Among them is Mohammad Sajjad, professor of history at Aligarh Muslim University. “The 69 MLAs in the last Assembly was bound to, and did, raise eyebrows,” he said.

But what irks Hindus even more is that Muslims constitute nearly one-third of all members in panchayats and local urban bodies. “It is they who have become a sore point with Hindus,” said Sajjad. “When they see Muslim panchayat members become examples of the rags-to-riches story, the majority community feels aggrieved. It is not that Hindu panchayat members are less corrupt. But every third panchayat member being Muslim has given credibility to the narrative that Muslims are being favoured.”

The Hindu angst against Muslim empowerment is also on account of both the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party being popularly perceived to be indifferent to the aspirations of certain subaltern social groups. For instance, it is this indifference that has led to non-Jatav Dalits and most backward castes, clubbed under the Other Backward Classes for reservations, to leave the Bahujan Samaj Party, as non-Yadav middle castes have left the Samajwadi Party. They did so in response to Mayawati turning hers into primarily the party of Jatavs, and the Samajwadi Party pursuing the Yadavisation of the administration.

“These aspirational Hindu groups are angry with the SP [Samajwadi Party] and the BSP [Bahujan Samaj Party],” said Sajjad. “Their anger against them also turned into anger against Muslims.” This is because it is popularly felt that the support of Muslims to the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Samajwadi Party brings them to power, turning these parties callously indifferent to the aspirations of other groups.

It is to neutralise the efficacy of Muslim votes, and also to teach their parties of choice a lesson, that these aspirational groups have flocked to the BJP. “This is why the very presence of Muslims in the political arena has become problematic for Hindus,” Sajjad said.

So then, should Muslims take Adeeb’s cue and retreat from the political arena or at least keep a low profile?

Sajjad replied, “Go ahead and vote the party of your choice. But after that, play the role of a citizen. If people don’t get electricity, protest with others. You can’t be forgiving of those for whom you voted only because they can keep the BJP out of power. This is what angers aspirational Hindu social groups.”

Indeed, it does seem a travesty of justice and democracy that Muslims should rally behind the Samajwadi Party in Muzaffarnagar after the riots there. Or that they voted for the Bahujan Samaj Party in Thana Bhawan in such large numbers even though Mayawati didn’t even care to visit the Muslim families who suffered unduly during the riots.

Introspection and self-criticism
Like Sajjad’s, most narratives of Muslims have a strong element of self-criticism. Almost all vented their ire against Muslim clerics. Did they have to direct Muslims which party they should vote for? Didn’t they know their recklessness would trigger a Hindu polarisation?

Unable to fathom their irresponsible behaviour, some plump for conspiracy theories. It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise to hear Obaidullah Nasir, editor of the Urdu newspaper Avadhnama, say, “They take money from the Bharatiya Janata Party to create confusion among Muslims. I got abused for writing this. But how else can you explain their decision to go public with their instructions to Muslims?”

Poet Ameer Imam, who teaches in a college in the Muslim-dominated Sambhal constituency, said, “Muslims will have to tell the maulanas that their services are required in mosques, not in politics. When Muslims applaud their rabble rousers, can they complain against those in the BJP?”

To this, add another question: When Mayawati spoke of Dalit-Muslim unity, didn’t Muslims think it would invite a Hindu backlash?

Most will assume, as I did too, that Muslims fear the communal cauldron that Uttar Pradesh has become will be kept on the boil. But this is not what worries them. Not because they think the Bharatiya Janata Party in power will change its stripes, but because they fear Muslims will feel so cowered that they will recoil, and live in submission. “Our agony arises from being reduced to second-class citizens, of becoming politically irrelevant,” said journalist Asif Burney.

True, members of the Muslim community are doing a reality-check and are willing to emerge from the fantasy world in which they thought that they decided which party won an election. The Uttar Pradesh results have rudely awakened them to the reality of being a minority, of gradually being reduced to political insignificance, and their status as an equal citizen – at least in their imagination – challenged and on the way to being undermined.

But this does not mean they wish to enter yet another world of fantasy, which journalist and Union minister MJ Akbar held out to them in the piece he penned for the Times of India on March 12. Akbar wrote,

“…[T]his election was not about religion; it was about India, and the elimination of its inherited curse, poverty. It was about good governance.”


One of those whom I spoke to laughed uproariously on hearing me repeat Akbar’s lines. So you can say that with them believing their future is darkled, Muslims at least haven’t lost their humour.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Cow Calculus: What Modi Stood To Lose By Keeping Silent On 'Gau Rakshaks'

By AJAZ ASHRAF | INNLIVE

The prime minister deserves praise for criticising cow-protection vigilantes. Now he must walk the talk.

Regardless of whether you endorse the Bharatiya Janata Party’s ideology, one cannot but appreciate Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s decision to belatedly emerge from the cocoon of silence to condemn cow-protection groups.

Sunday, February 09, 2014

The Original Urdu Language Dying A Slow Death In India

By Hamid Ansari (Guest Writer)

Urdu, despite its spread across many States, finds itself to be in a condition of homelessness. It is to be noted that most of the 22 languages now listed in the Eighth Schedule find territorial expression in a ‘home State’. A notable exception to this is Urdu which despite its spread across many States finds itself to be in a condition of homelessness, with all its attendant consequences. Sindhi is in a similar position except for the fact that the total number of Sindhi speakers is 2.57 million. 

Besides being an officially recognised language, Urdu also has an official language status for some specified purposes (whose details vary and condition the impact substantively) in Andhra Pradesh, Bihar, Delhi, Jammu & Kashmir, Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh. According to the Census of India 2001, there were a total of 51.5 million Urdu speakers in the country, amounting to 5.01 per cent of population and constituting the sixth largest language group.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Only Votes can Clean Politics of Criminals

By Joginder Singh

An executive engineer of the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) was beaten to death in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, on December 25, allegedly by a history-sheeter MLA of the Bahujan Samaj Party, his supporters, and allegedly, two PWD engineers. The engineer was reportedly killed because he refused to cough up Rs 50 lakhs for the birthday celebrations of chief minister Mayawati on January 15, 2009. The state government and Ms Mayawati have denied this allegation.

The accused Shekhar Tiwari, since arrested, has several cases pending against him. In 2001, he was also booked under the Gangster Act and remained behind bars for several months. In June 2008, two state ministers, one from Uttar Pradesh and the other from Assam, were removed from their offices and arrested. The Uttar Pradesh fisheries minister Jamuna Nishad was arrested for allegedly killing a police constable while leading a mob protesting police protection for an accused in the rape of a girl belonging the Nishad community. The education minister of Assam, Ripun Bora, was arrested and later sacked for trying to bribe CBI officials with Rs 10 lakhs so that they would go soft on him in the murder investigation against him.

According to the Election Commission, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar account for at least 40 MPs and 700 MLAs who have faced criminal charges that include murder, dacoity, rape, theft and extortion. Some leading lights include Pappu Yadav (convicted of murdering a Left party legislator) and Syed Shahabuddin. Both are in jail. Union law minister told the Rajya Sabha the in 2008 that there were over 1,300 cases pending against sitting MPs and MLAs in various courts. The CBI was investigating 65 of these. There is a regional concentration in terms of criminal cases. Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh comprise 28 per cent of all MPs but account for over 50 per cent of MPs with high-penalty criminal cases. The party-wise position of MPs is that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leads in the proportion of criminal cases (43.5 per cent).

In respect of criminal cases with severe penalties (five or more years’ imprisonment), RJD tops the list with 34.8 per cent of MPs, BSP with 27.8 per cent and the Samajwadi Party with 19.4 per cent. Congress MPs in this category account for 7.6 per cent of their total number in Parliament. For BJP it is 10.9 per cent.

A former chief minister, when asked about the 22 ministers in his Cabinet with criminal antecedents, said, “I don’t bother about the ministers’ past. After joining the government they are not indulging in crimes and want to help suppress criminal activities. Ask the people why they have elected them”.

On July 9, 1993 the Government of India constituted a committee, under the chairmanship of home secretary, with secretary, Raw, Director, Intelligence Bureau, Director, CBI, Special Secretary (Home) as members, to take stock of all available information about the activities of criminal syndicates and mafia organisations which had developed links with and were being protected by government functionaries and political personalities.

Director CBI told the committee that all over India crime syndicates have become a law unto themselves. In smaller towns and rural areas, musclemen have become the order of the day and hired assassins are a part of these organisations. The nexus between criminal gangs, police, bureaucracy and politicians has come out clearly in various parts of the country.

The existing criminal justice system, essentially designed to deal with individual offences/crimes, is unable to deal with the activities of the mafia. The provisions of law with regard to economic offences are weak and there are insurmountable legal difficulties in attaching or confiscating property acquired through mafia activities.

When pressed further to know what action had been taken to end criminalisation, the then Union home minister S.B. Chavan had said that he had forwarded the committee’s reports to the state governments for necessary action. That was the end of efforts to prevent criminalisation of politics and society.

Political power has flowed from the barrel of the gun in states where in criminals have adorned elective offices of not one but all political parties.

No politician or a political party is in the business of politics for dharma-karam and politicians are quick to seize all opportunities for electoral gains. The caste card is unabashedly played to drum up support. Whenever a question is put about how they intend to eliminate criminalisation of politics, the standard response is that political parties must arrive at a consensus. Politicians will have consensus only when it suits their interests and it will never suit them to have a person with a clean record whose electoral victory might be doubtful.

After all what matters in politics are numbers, whether they are procured by hook or crook, temptations of pelf or power. Middle class people talk about criminalisation and they are the ones who do not go out to cast their votes on the ground that either it is too cold or too hot or they have another engagement or they do not want to stand in a queue. As countrymen we get a chance once in five years to elect our rulers. Instead of lamenting about the sorry state of affairs, why don’t we go out and discharge our duties as citizens and elect the best possible candidate? This is the only way to end criminalisation in politics. Especially since our governments aren’t just unable to end criminalisation, they are simply unwilling to do so.

It is worthwhile to quote what former US President Ronald Reagan said: “Politicians may think prostitution is a grim, degrading life. But prostitutes think the same of politics. Getting a lecture on morality from a politician is like getting a lecture on chastity from a whore”.

Only Votes can Clean Politics of Criminals

By Joginder Singh

An executive engineer of the Uttar Pradesh Public Works Department (PWD) was beaten to death in Auraiya, Uttar Pradesh, on December 25, allegedly by a history-sheeter MLA of the Bahujan Samaj Party, his supporters, and allegedly, two PWD engineers. The engineer was reportedly killed because he refused to cough up Rs 50 lakhs for the birthday celebrations of chief minister Mayawati on January 15, 2009. The state government and Ms Mayawati have denied this allegation.

The accused Shekhar Tiwari, since arrested, has several cases pending against him. In 2001, he was also booked under the Gangster Act and remained behind bars for several months. In June 2008, two state ministers, one from Uttar Pradesh and the other from Assam, were removed from their offices and arrested. The Uttar Pradesh fisheries minister Jamuna Nishad was arrested for allegedly killing a police constable while leading a mob protesting police protection for an accused in the rape of a girl belonging the Nishad community. The education minister of Assam, Ripun Bora, was arrested and later sacked for trying to bribe CBI officials with Rs 10 lakhs so that they would go soft on him in the murder investigation against him.

According to the Election Commission, Uttar Pradesh and Bihar account for at least 40 MPs and 700 MLAs who have faced criminal charges that include murder, dacoity, rape, theft and extortion. Some leading lights include Pappu Yadav (convicted of murdering a Left party legislator) and Syed Shahabuddin. Both are in jail. Union law minister told the Rajya Sabha the in 2008 that there were over 1,300 cases pending against sitting MPs and MLAs in various courts. The CBI was investigating 65 of these. There is a regional concentration in terms of criminal cases. Bihar, UP, Jharkhand and Madhya Pradesh comprise 28 per cent of all MPs but account for over 50 per cent of MPs with high-penalty criminal cases. The party-wise position of MPs is that the Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) leads in the proportion of criminal cases (43.5 per cent).

In respect of criminal cases with severe penalties (five or more years’ imprisonment), RJD tops the list with 34.8 per cent of MPs, BSP with 27.8 per cent and the Samajwadi Party with 19.4 per cent. Congress MPs in this category account for 7.6 per cent of their total number in Parliament. For BJP it is 10.9 per cent.

A former chief minister, when asked about the 22 ministers in his Cabinet with criminal antecedents, said, “I don’t bother about the ministers’ past. After joining the government they are not indulging in crimes and want to help suppress criminal activities. Ask the people why they have elected them”.

On July 9, 1993 the Government of India constituted a committee, under the chairmanship of home secretary, with secretary, Raw, Director, Intelligence Bureau, Director, CBI, Special Secretary (Home) as members, to take stock of all available information about the activities of criminal syndicates and mafia organisations which had developed links with and were being protected by government functionaries and political personalities.

Director CBI told the committee that all over India crime syndicates have become a law unto themselves. In smaller towns and rural areas, musclemen have become the order of the day and hired assassins are a part of these organisations. The nexus between criminal gangs, police, bureaucracy and politicians has come out clearly in various parts of the country.

The existing criminal justice system, essentially designed to deal with individual offences/crimes, is unable to deal with the activities of the mafia. The provisions of law with regard to economic offences are weak and there are insurmountable legal difficulties in attaching or confiscating property acquired through mafia activities.

When pressed further to know what action had been taken to end criminalisation, the then Union home minister S.B. Chavan had said that he had forwarded the committee’s reports to the state governments for necessary action. That was the end of efforts to prevent criminalisation of politics and society.

Political power has flowed from the barrel of the gun in states where in criminals have adorned elective offices of not one but all political parties.

No politician or a political party is in the business of politics for dharma-karam and politicians are quick to seize all opportunities for electoral gains. The caste card is unabashedly played to drum up support. Whenever a question is put about how they intend to eliminate criminalisation of politics, the standard response is that political parties must arrive at a consensus. Politicians will have consensus only when it suits their interests and it will never suit them to have a person with a clean record whose electoral victory might be doubtful.

After all what matters in politics are numbers, whether they are procured by hook or crook, temptations of pelf or power. Middle class people talk about criminalisation and they are the ones who do not go out to cast their votes on the ground that either it is too cold or too hot or they have another engagement or they do not want to stand in a queue. As countrymen we get a chance once in five years to elect our rulers. Instead of lamenting about the sorry state of affairs, why don’t we go out and discharge our duties as citizens and elect the best possible candidate? This is the only way to end criminalisation in politics. Especially since our governments aren’t just unable to end criminalisation, they are simply unwilling to do so.

It is worthwhile to quote what former US President Ronald Reagan said: “Politicians may think prostitution is a grim, degrading life. But prostitutes think the same of politics. Getting a lecture on morality from a politician is like getting a lecture on chastity from a whore”.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Will This Election See Higher Turnout After 'Poll Tamasha'?

By M H Ahssan | INNLIVE

ANALYSIS While an increased turnout in Assembly elections is not an indicator of the same in Lok Sabha elections, aggressive campaigning points toward a higher turnout in this poll.

If the pattern of turnout in the Assembly elections held over the last couple of years are of any indication, the turnout in the ongoing Lok Sabha elections should significantly increase. Almost all the Assembly elections held in different States between 2012-13 witnessed a higher turnout compared to those held in previous years. 

Saturday, April 05, 2014

Muslim Vote: Not Swept Up In Modi Wave Or Rahul Mania

By Sanjay Malik | INNLIVE

In an election where the most prominent prime ministerial candidate is the starkly polarising Narendra Modi, it follows that the behaviour of the Muslim voter could have a telling impact on the eventual outcome. 

Whether the Muslim vote consolidates clearly against the BJP, whether Muslim voters in constituency after constituency vote carefully and tactically with the only objective of denying a victory to the Bharatiya Janata Party candidate, this could be key to how far the NDA finds itself from its the magic number of 272 MPs on May 16. 

Wednesday, January 02, 2013

Entrepreneur's campaign targets 2 MPs, 42 MLAs accused of crimes against women


Ever since people of the country came out on the streets, lit candles, held protest marches and clashed with the police, many had made direct and oblique references to the political culture of parties turning a blind eye towards giving tickets to candidates accused under different sections of Indian Penal Code for crimes against women including rape. The clamour for the clean-up of the political class seems to be only getting stronger.
With help from his friends and associates, Srikant Sastri, a Delhi-based entrepreneur and angel investor, has started a campaign called 'Save The Republic - Resign Before Jan 26th' on Facebook and Twitter to ask two MPs and 42 MLAs, accused of crimes against women including rape, to voluntarily tender their resignations before Republic Day. The data has been culled together from the affidavits submitted by candidates to the Election Commission of India and the various state election commissions.
Of these accused, six MLAs are accused of rape. As many as three of them are from Samajwadi Party (SP): Sribhagwan Sharma, Anoop Sanda and Manoj Kumar, all from Uttar Pradesh. Mohd Aleem Khan from BSP is another such accused from the same state. The BJP's Jethabhai G Ahir from Gujarat and TDP's Kandikunta Venkata Prasad from Andhra Pradesh are the other two.

Thirty six other MLAs have declared that they have other charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc. Of these, six MLAs are from the Congress, five from the BJP and three are from SP.

UP has the maximum number of MLAs (eight) who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, followed by Orissa and West Bengal with seven MLAs each.

Two MPs, namely Semmalai S of ADMK from Salem constituency in Tamil Nadu and Suvendu Adhikari of the Trinamool Congress (AITC) from Tamluk constituency in West Bengal, have declared that they have charges of crimes against women, such as cruelty and intent to outrage a woman's modesty etc.

Speaking to HNN, Sastri said, "While we understand that being accused for a crime and being convicted are not the same, given the level of public outrage, the lengthy judicial process and the haplessly low conviction rates, we believe it's time for the political parties of the country to try to reclaim the higher ground."

The campaign, launched in the first day of the new year at 12 midnight, seeks voluntary tendering of resignations on part of the elected representatives. "We do not want confrontation, we want dialogue with the parties, we want them to take this step out of self-realisation. As part of the build-up plan, we are also trying to reach out to the youth of our country by directly campaigning in colleges apart from running the e-campaigns," Sastri told HNN.

"We wanted to fix the date for January 26 not just because it is our Republic Day but also because a lot of people believe that attitudinal changes towards women is a time-taking process and are bogged down by a sense of helplessness. We wanted to put a time-frame to this to also let the political parties have a chance to show the people that they could act swiftly and decisively," Sastri added.

Incidentally, political parties gave tickets to 260 such other contesting candidates in the Legislative Assembly elections held in the last five years who have declared that they have charges of crimes against women such as outraging the modesty of a woman, assault, insulting the modesty of a woman etc.

Out of the 260 candidates who declared that they have been charged with crimes against women, 72 are/were independent candidates, 24 have been given tickets by the BJP, 26 by the Congress, 16 by the SP and 18 by the BSP.

Maharasthra has the maximum number of such candidates (41), followed by Uttar Pradesh (37) and West Bengal (22).

In the 2009 Lok Sabha elections, political parties gave tickets to six candidates who declared that they have been charged with rape. Out of these six, three are from Bihar, one from Delhi, one from Uttar Pradesh and one from Andhra Pradesh.

Thirty four other contesting candidates from the 2009 Lok Sabha elections declared that they have charges of crimes against women.

Maximum cases of crimes against women are against candidates from Bihar (9), followed by Maharashtra (6), and Uttar Pradesh (5).

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Small States Syndrome: An India Divided Into 50 States On Economic Lines Will Ensure A True Shining Nation

By Prabhu Chawla (Star Guest Writer)

OPINION  Expediency is the mot juste for the Congress credo. The party founded by Alan Octavian Hume exactly 129 years ago swears by its imperial inheritance from the Union Jack—the British policy of divide and rule. For a party that advertises inclusive economics and politics, its policies and actions have always been aimed at polarising the nation along casteist, regional and religious lines. 

It chooses to divide when it fails to unite through pressure, persuasion and power. For example, after stonewalling the creation of a Telangana state for over five decades, it has suddenly discovered that dividing Andhra Pradesh is its only option to capture a small sliver of the stormy state. It is rare that a new state is created, not for economic and administrative reasons but purely to improve the political prospects of a party. 

Sunday, June 05, 2016

Fake Federalism: How 'National Parties' Turned The Concept Of 'Rajya' In Rajya Sabha Into A Farce?

By NEWSCOP | INNLIVE 

The upper House of Parliament, literally a Council of States, was meant to be a federal chamber to look out for the interests of the states.

The continued abuse of the idea of the Rajya Sabha – or the Council of States – by the so-called national parties continues with the upcoming round of Rajya Sabha elections.

Friday, January 10, 2014

A Slap On Democracy: A Sheer Undemocratic 'Celebration' With Riot Victims, Poor, Homeless And Needy In UP

By M H Ahssan | INN Live

EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE The Muzaffarnagar riot victims have been left to fend for themselves while leaders of the ruling Samajwadi Party enjoy lavish celebrations and foreign jaunts. 

Samajwadi Party supremo Mulayam Singh Yadav can certainly brave the chill of the January nights. On the night of 8 January, he was at the annual Saifai Mahotsav in his native district of Etawah, along with his son, Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav. The father-son duo looked absolutely comfortable enjoying the “Bollywood Night” as actors Salman Khan and Madhuri Dixit, among others, shook their legs to various dance numbers.

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Four Ways To Portray Muslims As India's Biggest Threat

These four separate incidents in two states - Karnataka and Uttar Pradesh - were driven by just one motive: sparking communal disharmony through false information.

1. Abdul Khan, the fictitious ISIS Bangalore bomber: Until a day ago, the Twitter handle @LatestAbdul that ran tweets claiming responsibility for the Church Street blast in Bangalore, was speculated to belong to one of the radicalised Indian Muslim cadres of the ISIS. Now it turns out that the person behind the terror threats is a 17-year-old and reportedly not a Muslim.