New Delhi: Muslims perhaps played a dominant role in UP elections, either by staying from voting machines or even at times, voting in microscopic minority in favour of BJP.
The 'reverse polarisation' of majority Hindus and BJP's calculated strategy not to field Muslims - as was the 'Gujarat model' of electoral strategy - have largely led to massive victory for the saffron party and also resulted in significant drop in the number of Muslim legislators in the country's largest state, said political observers and Muslim leaders.
The number of Muslim legislators in the newly-elected UP Assembly has come down to 25 - an all time low in the recent past, pointed out a few Muslim leaders, while analysing that even after Ram Mandir movement upheaval in 1990s, there were at least 28 legislators in the state Assembly in 1993 and this increased gradually to 38 in 1996, 46 in 2002, 56 in 2007 and, 68 in 2012 - when a supposedly pro-Muslim outfit Samajwadi Party stormed back to power.
According to many sociologists, including from the minority community, however, the sole reason for drastic reduction in the number of Muslims in the state Assembly is not purely the electoral efficacy of Team Amit Shah and the powerful 'Narendra Modi magic', but it also has a lot to do with the first political faux pas in the Congress-Samajwadi Party coming together in short term and in the long term, utter negligence of Muslim welfare.
"In politics, there is no sacred cow, if BJP tries to polarise Hindus creating fear about Muslims, the Samajwadi Party tried to create the same fear about Hindus in Muslim's mind. People this time sought to give BJP a benefit of doubt," said a Jamaat-i-Hind leader in the riot-hit Muzaffarnagar.
"In these elections, Congress and other secular parties - SP and BSP lost not only electorally, but also morally," he says.
"Humey toh kucch nahi mila (We did not get anything)," lamented one shopkeeper in Firozabad ? just few days before the first phase of polls in UP.
Not many disagreed.
"People had a lot of expectations from Akhilesh Yadav. In 2012, he was an image of hope. But what can we talk about a government that was unable to work in the Chief Minister's father's constituency in Mainpuri," laments Andalib Khan, a businessman at Firozabad.
Others said ? while stark poverty and lack of facilities drove people out of Mainpuri and other areas like Firozabad into far off Mumbai and even south India, the Samajwadi regime remained indifferent for three years and later tried to blame Prime Minister Narendra Modi's 'note-bandi'.
Therefore, once the results came in, many in towns like Firozabad, Agra and Meerut said they want Mulayam Singh Yadav, Akhilesh, Ram Gopal Yadav and even Mayawati learn lessons and change their style of functioning.
In the midst of approval from a group of friends around, Vijay Kumar Lakhan, professionally a Dhaba cook in Noida, says, "Even backward castes wanted a change in political style. PM Modi's appeal excited everyone".
While BJP's well calculated move not to field any Muslim candidate paid of well perhaps more because BJP was never apologetic about it; Muslim leaders say Congress-Samajwadi Party gave BJP the golden opportunity to work on "reverse polarisation"
According to BJP's poll strategists -- they are not much surprised with the outcome as the UP poll results finally have proved that the regional parties like SP and BSP and the Congress have failed to generate enthusiasm among Muslims by their lip service.
"Over the years, the secular brigade did not do much for the minorities. Their bluff was to be exposed one day," said BJP leader Sudanshu Trivedi.
Echoing similar sentiment, Agra-based Jamaluddin Quereshi, a prominent Muslim leader of Congress party in Agra, told UNI: "The indiscriminate attack on Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Hindutva politics more than often justifying unreasonable actions in the name of Muslim 'welfarism' and often a free-hand to legitimise the menaces of goondaism, corruption and dynastic politics have discredited the secular brigade".
Mr Qureshi further said, "Our warning from Agra was ignored. Congress tie up with Samajwadi Party made us look like justifying the goondaism of Samajwadi regime. Even sensible Muslims stayed away from voting for the alliance".
The growth of Moditva phenomenon and Hindu polarisation also has other issues to talk about the Muslim voters' mindset.
Many dismiss the theory that Muslims vote en-masse, according to a predictable pattern - and that's clear anti-Modi or anti-BJP.
"This paraphrasing of Muslims as the voters in bracket with parties like Samajwadi Party and BSP is not entirely true. Muslims in Agra region had more than one reason to be annoyed with Akhilesh Yadav. The Ghar Wapsi controversy of December 2014 was joint mischief of Bajrang Dal and local Samajwadi leaders," said Agra-based Qureshi.
Others said, Muslims have long standing grudge against Congress for their faulty approach with the Shah Bano case and the Ram Mandir Shilyanayas and others.
Generally considered as 'tools for garnering votes,' the Muslims in this year's UP elections had a historical role to play not merely for making a government, but also for themselves and the country, said Muzaffarnagar-based Ayub Ali.
"Perhaps they played that role either by staying away from EVMs or even by voting in microscopic minority in favour of BJP nominees in some places," he added.
That there is a possible increase in BJP's support base among the Muslims need not be over stated. BJP could wrest victories in traditional strongholds of Samajwadi Party and the Congress in constituencies with substantial Muslims.
"It is the Congress and parties like Samajwadi, which have created a ghettos for Muslims. Contrary to the
campaign by Congress and others against Narendra Modi and the BJP, a substantial number of Muslims have
voted for BJP. Otherwise, the results would not have been like this in UP," said BJP Spokesman Zafar Islam.