Reading the report between the lines and it is clear that the main cause for alarm is the wide-as-Ganga division between Shias and Sunnis. In places like Varanasi, the BJP (and specifically Modi) is expected to significantly benefit from Shia votes against Sunni acts of (petty) discrimination.
The Hindustan Times Correspondent in Lucknow Sunita Aaron says in an
analysis published on Sunday that the maulanas have had their share of
spreading confusion among the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh and elsewhere,
and this will inevitably help the BJP in the elections. Have the
religious clerics bargained a quid pro quo?
In 2008, says Aaron,
one of the world’s biggest and influential Islamic seminaries, Darul
Uloom Deoband, which doesn’t entertain politicians, issued a fatwa that
said India is a democratic and secular country, whose electoral politics
can’t be assessed on the basis of Islamic scriptures.
method would bring nothing except disturbance and confusion. However,
one should vote for parties and leaders best suited for both Muslims and
the country,” the fatwa said, in reply to questions ranging from
whether one should vote for a criminal politician to whether a Muslim
loses his faith if he votes for BJP.
Clerics at Lucknow’s Darul
Uloom Nadwatul Ulama, another internationally renowned centre of Islamic
studies which receives politicians of all hues without rallying behind
them, has also resisted voicing partisan opinions about elections.
to the seemingly neutral position of these seminaries, Shahi Imam of
Delhi’s Jama Masjid Syed Ahmed Bukhari recently urged Muslims to vote
for the Congress, saying it will “strengthen secularism”. He also
expressed support for Mamata Banerjee and Congress’ ally Lalu Prasad.
brother Yahya Bukhari, on the other hand, described Congress as a
“hidden enemy” under whose rule Muslims had to suffer several riots.
Influential Shia cleric Kalbe Jawad declared a vote for the Congress
meant “betraying Islam”.
Many Muslims feel that by endorsing
parties, often invoking religion, mullahs are not only dividing the
community but helping the politicians they intend to fight.
Rizwan Husain, an academic based in Aligarh, after casting his vote
posted on his Facebook account: “As theologians, mullahs should not
become political educators. We urge them not to confuse Muslim masses
with their political fatwas. Auctioning, bartering and selling Muslim
vote for personal gain is not an act of piety.”
remarks that such fatwas end up confusing voters appear apt, as reports
coming out of communally polarised west UP confirm the divergent
statements by Muslim clerics ahead of the polls divided Muslim voters
sharply, rather than uniting them as a bloc that votes tactically.
and I have just returned after casting our votes. It feels as if it is a
referendum vote on ‘Modi sarkar’. The Muslim vote, however, seems
divided because of varying endorsements of candidates by Shia and Sunni
clerics,” said another Facebook post.
Dr Mustafa Kamal Sherwani,
head of the department of law at Shia College in Lucknow, too blames
maulanas for the division of Muslim votes in the first phase of Lok
Sabha election in UP.
He said many of his Hindu friends had told
him BJP prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s rise had been helped
by “unwarranted reactions of maulanas”.
Although Muslims have a
strong presence only in 46 of 545 seats in Parliament, they can
influence the outcome of elections in more seats.