SP ready to woo ‘backward’ Muslims
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Ahead of the Lok Sabha polls, Samajwadi Party is now focussing on backward-class Muslims. Though Muslims form the mainstay of SP vote bank, the move has been initiated following representations by several backward-class groups to the party for addressing their issues separately.
SP's senior leaders including ministers, MPs and national general secretary Prof Ramgopal Yadav are regularly attending programmes of backward-class Muslims for consolidating them behind the party in the state. SP is already alarmed over the emergence of Dr Mohd Ayub's Peace Party which has a sizeable following among the weaver (Ansari) community of the Muslims. Earlier, SP banked on its Muslim face cabinet minister Azam Khan but the voices of resentment among the forward-backward class of Muslims had forced the party to revise its strategy. In a way, SP also wants to end its over-reliance on Azam Khan for Muslim issues.
SP has also roped in Pasmanda Muslim Samaj (PMS) - an organisation of backward-class Muslims for organising such functions which are indirectly supported by Anees Mansoori, the president of PMS who is presently state secretary of SP.
Among the 44 castes of Muslims, only four are regarded as forward class while rest are categorised as backward as per Mandal Commission. These 40 castes are eligible for reservation in Other Backward Class (OBC) category. However, most of the Muslim leadership in the country has remained in the hands of forward-class Muslims. This has given rise to resentment among the backward-class Muslims who are now demanding their share. "We constitute 85 per cent of Muslim community but the leadership has been with the upper caste Muslims. Senior leaders as Mohsina Kidwai, Salman Khurshid etc from forward-class Muslims only promoted their family members and did little for the community," Anees Mansoori remarked.
Already, in November several programmes of backward Muslims have been organised which were attended by senior SP leaders. At Hardoi, party's Rajya Sabha MP Naresh Agarwal attended the function, in Phulpur SP had deputed Cabinet Minister Om Prakash Singh and Shankh Lal Manjhi for attending the programme, at Jhansi function MPs Ghanshyam Anuragi, R K Singh Patel along with Cabinet Minister Shiv Kumar Beria and Minister of State (independent charge) Arvind Kumar Singh Gope attended the function. In the series, another programme of backward Muslims is being organised at Ghaziabad on Sunday which will be attended by party's national general secretary Prof Ramgopal Yadav. "Now the backward Muslims have politically awakened and we cannot just follow the upper-caste Muslim leadership. Our community needs its own share as we are in a majority among the Muslims," Mansoor stated.