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For Mulayam,Kalyan means OBC votes

Erosion of his party’s Muslim support base and BSP inroads into his home turf — stretching from Kanpur to Agra and Etah to Badyun — have forced SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to join hand with old enemy Kalyan Singh.

Written by Virendra Nath Bhatt | Lucknow |
February 6, 2009 1:17:16 am

Erosion of his party’s Muslim support base and BSP inroads into his home turf — stretching from Kanpur to Agra and Etah to Badyun — have forced SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav to join hand with old enemy Kalyan Singh. The idea is to consolidate the OBC votebank.

For years,Muslims stood by Mulayam Singh because of his strident opposition to the BJP’s anti-Babri Masjid campaign. The first indication of a drop was visible in the 2007 assembly polls. As many as 30 Muslim candidates of the BSP won,only 20 were elected on SP ticket.

The BSP had fielded over 80 Muslims and the SP only half the number. But through the move,Mayawati sent out a signal that she was willing to give a greater share of power to Muslims. In fact,she makes it a point to stress that BSP is the only party willing to share power with Muslims.

In April 2008,the state had two Lok Sabha by-elections — Azamgarh and Khalilabad,constituencies with a large Muslim population. And the BSP wrested both from the SP.

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In the coming Lok Sabha polls,the BSP is expected to field more Muslim candidates than any other political party,including the SP. Already,it has announced the names of about 20 candidates. Mulayam cannot match the figure because his first commitment is to the Yadav community.

The SP denies that its support among Muslims is waning. “It is only the frustrated and rootless wonders in the politics who are trying to rake up a controversy over our friendship with Kalyan Singh,” says Kazi Rashid Masood,parliamentarian from Saharanpur and SP’s senior Muslim leader.

“With his help,we are trying to destroy the factory of communalism — the Sangh Parivar. Those opposing him are inadvertently helping the communal forces.”

Moreover,“it is the most natural alliance and our Muslim vote base remains intact,” said Masood,in an apparent reference to the fact that both Mulayam and Kalyan are OBCs.

But the facts speak for themselves.

Explains political analyst Ashutosh Mishra: “Mayawati is firming up her Dalit-Brahmin-Muslim combination so Mulayam is left with no option but to consolidate the OBC votebank. It’s a rational move to protect his core area,where Kalyan Singh’s community,the Lodhas,count. They comprise 7 to 8 per cent of the population”.

Mulayam’s alliance with the Congress ended his political isolation,but the Congress lacked any committed votebank,and it was also not willing to let the SP play the big brother. Kalyan brings the promise of votes and he is far easier to manage.

SP sources believe the tie-up with Kalyan will strengthen the home turf of Mulayam Singh Yadav. Not only the Lodhs,but other small groups of OBCs like Binds,Mallahas,Kewats and Nishads are also likely to be attracted to the party.

In as many as 20 Lok Sabha constituencies,the Yadav-Lodha combine can be a formidable force. They include Fatehpur Sikiri,Ferozabad,Mainpuri,Etah,Badyun,Shahjahanpur,Farrukhabad,Etawah,Kannauj,Akbarpur,Jalaun,Jhansi,Banda,Fatehpur,Kaushambi and Phulpur and Badyun,Hamirpur,Jhansi.

Beni Prasad Verma,the staunchest critic of Mulayam Singh Yadav,admits that with the coming together of the two top OBC leaders,“the morale of the Yadavs is high and they have conclusively rallied behind the SP”.

He,however,adds: “The Lodhs are not much enthused by this alliance as Yadavs,during the SP regime,had tormented the community and Shakshi Maharaj is already there to challenge Kalyan Singh in the Etah Lok Sabha seat”.

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