Muslims To Support BJP

Backward Muslim Morcha seeks reservations under Article 341 in return

Muslims To Support BJP

In a new twist to the already volatile political scenario in Uttar Pradesh,the All India Backward Muslim Morcha on Wednesday pledged conditional support tothe BJP in the state.

"We are ready to support the BJP in UP, provided they heed our demand ofproviding reservations under Article 341 of the Constitution, " Morcha'snational convenor Dr Ejaz Ali said.

The declaration of the Morcha, which boasts allegiance of at least 64backward castes and 90 per cent of the total Muslim population of India, willsizeably increase the vote-bank of a beleagured BJP which has been scouting forelection partners including making overtures to rivals BSP.

Ali said their Morcha was ready to accept unconditionally the threecontentious issues -- Article 370 and 371 (dealing with Kashmir), building ofRam Temple at Ayodhya and Common Civil Code.

"Kashmir is an integral part of our country and there is no question ofhaving any divergent opinion on this issue. We are also ready to accept thecourt ruling, whatsoever it may be, in the Babri Masjid case. As far as CommonCivil Code is concerned, if we can accept the Common Criminal Code why not thecivil code?" the convenor, who founded the Morcha in 1994, said.

He dismissed these as "non-issues" and instead urged for emphasison basic issues of backward Muslims - that of poverty and illiteracy.

"We will support whichever party helps us in our cause of improving ourstandard of living which will happen only if Dalit Muslims are treated at parwith other backward castes and given reservation under Article 341, " Alisaid.

He said the Bihar State Assembly had passed the Bill regarding reservationson July 21 last year and the ball has been in Centre's court since then. Theissue had been raised twice in Parliament so far but with no result.

"We helped Laloo Yadav win in Bihar after he promised to promote ourcause and now the BJP can win our support by doing the same. Uskee (BJP)sarkar hai, wo pass kar de hamara Bill aur le le hamara vote (BJP is inpower, let it pass such a Bill and take our votes)," he said.

Ali, who is spearheading the movement in eight states, claimed that theirswas a genuine demand and they were neither interested in post or politics.

The Dalit Muslims intensified their movement for reservation in 1998 and helda jaddo-jehad or "fight for rights" conference on Oct 4 thesame year at Patna. They also held demonstrations outside Parliament thefollowing year.

Asked whether the acceptance of their demand will not trigger off similardemands from Dalit Christians and others, Ali said, "we are fighting forit. Let them fight too and take it" .

Ali slammed the upcoming visit by Pakistan's miltary ruler General PervezMusharraf to India as a "sham" which was not going to benefit eitherof the societies in any way. "Both are facing tough times at home and it isjust a way of diverting attention from main issues, " he said.