While the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) is still struggling to find its Chief Minister candidate in Uttar Pradesh, the newly elected MLAs here are already prepared to table their proposals in the first assembly session. In one of such proposals, BJP MLA from Deoband, Brijesh Singh revealed that he will get the name of his constituency changed to ‘Dev Vrand’ as the town is more famous for its links to the Maharabharat than Darul Uloom Deoband, the Islamic school where the Deobandi Islamic movement has its roots.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Singh said: “Deoband is just a perception as this town is always famous as Dev Vrand only. We have Mahabharat’s Rankhandi here and the five Pandavas have worshiped here in Dev Vrand. Even the village named as Jarwala is actually Yakshawala and is the same place where ‘Yaksha’ has questioned Yudhisthir.”
Deoband is one of the five constituencies in Saharanpur district of North UP. With a population of 65 per cent Muslims, the region is home to one of the earliest Islamic revivalist movements in India. The newly elected BJP MLA, Brijest Singh defeated Majid Ali of BSP with 29,415 votes and secured 1,02,000 votes from Deoband. Singh, who made the announcement during a ‘Holi Milan’ event, also claimed that a majority of Muslim women have voted for him as they are happy with the government’s stance on the triple talaq issue. The MLA also claimed that he would not have won by such a huge margin had they not voted for him. “Meri Muslim behne Modi ji ke sath hai aur woh bhi chahti hain ki teen Talaq band ho,” he added.
The Deobandi movement began a decade after the 1857 revolt against the British colonial rule in India. Founded by Islamic scholar Shah Waliullah Dehlawi, the movement was based on the rationale that the downfall of the Mughal empire was a punishment meted out to the Muslim community for having strayed from the true path of Islam. The religious seminary created by the founders of the movement, Darul Uloom Deoband, located in Deoband, propagates Islamic science and jurisprudence.
Since 2002, the Deoband constituency has been the stronghold of either the Samajwadi Party or the Bahujan Samaj Party. Before that, the BJP had come to power twice, first in the 1993 elections and then in 1996. Earlier, Deoband was a stronghold of the Congress since the first elections in 1951. In 2017, BJP’s emphatic victory can be pinned down to the division of Muslim votes between the SP and the BSP, resulting in the saffron party’s victory.