Friday, March 7, 2014

The Muslims of Uttar Pradesh

...may help determine who wins Election 2014. IMO the muslim vote will go for AAP in urban areas and BSP in rural ones. SP the current ruling party will be heavily penalized due to the Muzaffanagar riots. Thus Mayawati and Arvind Kejriwal will benefit from the muslim vote, even though NYT may have found isolated support for Modi. In Gujarat he has got plenty of muslim votes following logic #1 (see below)- If he looks like winning why waste your vote on someone else??

There is an old political saying in India that the way to Delhi goes through Lucknow, the capital of Uttar Pradesh. From an American point of view, Uttar Pradesh has it all: the electoral heft of a California-Ohio-Michigan combination, the uncertainty of a Florida recount, the political tricks of a South Carolina primary and the stark community divisions of Mississippi.

Salim Shah was cooking egg and chicken rolls on a dusty side street here when India’s most controversial national politician flew to a nearby park in a red helicopter and addressed hundreds of thousands of screaming supporters. Mr. Shah said that he and his 12-year-old son, who sliced boiled eggs by Mr. Shah’s side, were too busy to attend the rally. But when asked how he intended to vote in what many observers believe is the most consequential Indian election since 1977, Mr. Shah gave a brief shrug. “I’m inclined to support Mr. Modi,” Mr. Shah said quietly. “It looks like he’s going to win, and why waste your vote by voting for someone who is not going to win?”

Disgust with the present government and disappointment with the Gandhi political dynasty are so widespread that Mr. Modi comes to the election with a huge advantage. But the scale of his success depends in part on whether he can persuade Muslims like Mr. Shah to support his candidacy, a difficult challenge. Muslims make up about 14 percent of the country’s population, and they have been a crucial part of the support base of the governing party, Indian National Congress, for years.

Mohammad Jaffar Ali, a 27-year-old stockbroker who lives in a Muslim enclave in Lucknow, acknowledged hours after the rally that Mr. Modi seemed to be a good leader. “But I think being a good human being is far more important than being a good leader,” Mr. Ali said. “I’m not voting for him.”

A crowd soon gathered around Mr. Ali, a common occurrence when politics are discussed here. Among the young men was Karim Jafar, a 25-year-old medical product wholesaler and Muslim, who made a point of saying that he was a “an Indian first and a Muslim second.” Mr. Jafar said: “I’m young. I don’t know much about the past, but I’m hopeful for a good future and I think Mr. Modi could help bring that. No leader is perfect. I’m going to vote for Modi and see.”

Mr. Modi’s call for a more business-friendly government could also lure younger voters, many of whom are leaving school with few job prospects. India’s economy must create more than 115 million additional jobs over the next 10 years to accommodate the country’s youthful flood, a rate of growth its economy is far from achieving.

Mohammad Shakeel, 44, said he remembered the past too well to support Mr. Modi. Standing in front of about 70 caged chickens with fresh chicken blood brightening his shop floor, Mr. Shakeel said that he voted in the past for Congress, but this time would vote for a regional party. “There’s some concern, even some fear, about what Mr. Modi will do to Muslims if he becomes prime minister,” Mr. Shakeel said. “We don’t forget.”


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