Rajat Sharma


akb A new phrase ‘Vote Jihad’ was heard in the election lexicon of Uttar Pradesh on Tuesday. This was uttered by none other than the niece of senior Congress leader and former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid while addressing a Samajwadi party rally in Kaimganj, Farrukhabad. Maria Alam Khan is a leader of Samajwadi Party, while his uncle Salman Khurshid was elected MP from Farrukhabad twice, in 1991 and 2009. Since SP is the alliance partner of Congress, Salman Khurshid was present at the rally. Canvassing for SP candidate Nawal Kishore Shakya, Maria Alam Khan said, those Muslims who are supporting the BJP rival are nothing but ‘traitors of the community’ (Qaum Ke Gaddar) and all social contacts with them should be stopped (hukka-paani bandh). Speaking about Citizenship Amendment Act and National Register of Citizens, Maria Alam Khan said, Muslims must start “Vote Jihad” if they want to stop “atrocities” against them. She said, “we need this sacrifice (qurbani) today. We have reached a point, where we can neither win nor lose…. If Muslims do not unite, they will face complete eradication under BJP-RSS rule…..Let us all restrain our emotions, work cleverly and silently unite to carry out this ‘vote jihad’. Only then, we can we remove this Sanghi government. I was ashamed to hear that some of our local Muslims organized a meeting here for Mukesh Rajput (BJP candidate). We should impose social boycott (hukka-paani bandh) on them. There are so many youths who are languishing in jails today because of agitation against CAA, NRC, and Salman Khurshid Saheb is fighting their cases free of cost. We are all fighting for you, but if you do not join hands with us, we cannot do anything alone. You are our strength and if you lose your confidence, nothing can happen. We will fight hundred times and even lose, but our fight will continue. Those who are saying, Constitution and democracy are in danger, I can only say, even humanity is in danger. So vote with confidence this time, and do not be misguided.” The local police filed an FIR against Salman Khurshid and Maria Alam Khan for violating Model Code of Conduct by seeking votes in the name of religion. The Congress-SP alliance in Uttar Pradesh is dependent on Muslim and Yadav vote banks and both Rahul Gandhi and Akhilesh Yadav feel that if their candidates manage to get full support from Muslim voters, they can give a strong fight to BJP in several constituencies. One need not be an expert to find out what Muslim voters presently think and whom they vote for. Muslim voters in UP know that they get free ration daily, law and order situation has improved, police does not harass them unnecessarily, and those wearing kurtas (local leaders) do not engage in extortion. Moreover, roads and houses have been built and they are living a peaceful life, but at the time of polling, most of the Muslim voters say they have voted for ‘Cycle’ symbol (belonging to SP). But a change has now come. There are some people in Muslim community who think they must change too, after getting so many social welfare benefits. Some Muslim leaders fear their vote bank might break, and this could be the reason why the phrase ‘Vote Jihad’ has been coined. Muslims are being told that their identity will be in danger if BJP returns to power again. On the other hand, BJP leadership, after finding that the opposition is banking on Muslim voters, has started focussing on Hindu voters, not only in UP, but even in states like Bengal, where Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath alleged on Tuesday that Mamata Banerjee’s government is illegally settling Bangladeshis in order to reduce Hindus to a minority.

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