When Lalu Prasad Yadav asked Muslim bodies not to issue fatwa

Patna,Iftikhar Gilani: Two days after BJP-led NDA’s defeat in Bihar, at least six newly-elected legislators had descended into the grand building of Imarat Shariah in Phuwari Sharif, on the outskirts of the state capital. This unique socio-religious organisation of Muslims from Bihar, Jharkhand and Odisha played a crucial link in consolidating Muslim votes behind the grand alliance.


Maulana Anisur Rahman Quasmi, secretary of Imarat after blessing visiting legislators Abdul Bari Sidique, Dr Shamim Ahmed, Madan Mohan Tiwari, Shyam Rajak, Syed Abu Dujana and Abdul Gafoor, tells dna that unlike in the past, the Imarat desisted from issuing any public appeal to Muslim community. The grand alliance of Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), Janata Dal (U) and Congress secured 69% of Muslim votes against the 6% netted by the NDA.

Sources in the RJD also said that keeping in view the attempts of communal polarisation being unleashed by none other than BJP president Amit Shah, Lalu Prasad Yadav had asked Imarat Shariah to use its influence on all Muslim organisations, asking them not to issue any appeal or fatwa in favour of grand alliance, lest it gives a handle to Shah. “Instead, he had asked them to work discretely on the ground, going door -to door to convey the message of voting unitedly,” he said. Lalu was particularly concerned that BJP will use ‘fatwa’ to create a fear psychosis amongst Hindus to counter his caste calculus and social engineering. Secretary general of All India Milli Couuncil Dr Manzoor Alam, who himself hails from Madhubani wanted to address a public meeting in favour of the grand alliance, but was discouraged by Lalu. “I had arranged the meeting, but got a call from Lalu telling me that instead of holding a public meeting, you should go around in Muslim localities to ask people not to waste their vote, by casting in favour of Asaduddin Owaisi’s candidates,” he told dna. It seems that RJD supremo was assiduously trying to prevent any division in his trump card that is an alliance of Muslim, Yadav, Kurmi and Koeri communities.

Quasmi said the Imarat is “vehemently opposed to a division in society along religious or caste lines and has been fighting against it since 1921.”

“We consider the divide of vote as per caste or religion detrimental to the interests of the country and try to discourage it. This divide is also detrimental to the interests of our community. But unfortunately, it is a harsh reality on the ground here,” he said. He added, not only preventing division, but a serious challenge was to ensure a large turnout in Muslim areas, because a low voter turnout was one of the reasons of defeat of Lalu Prasad’s RJD and the Congress in the last elections. The consolidation has also helped in the election of 24 Muslim MLAs (10%), the highest since the bifurcation of the state. The 2010 assembly had 19 Muslim members. The highest ever figure in the past was 34 in undivided Bihar in 1985.

Analyst and psephologist Abhay Kumar, believes that Bihar is one of such states where Muslim population is in a deciding position. But they got consolidated only due to the alliance among all the so-called secular parties. For him the lessons for the BJP are to overcome its over-confidence mentality.

In 2016, the BJP has to face Assam, West Bengal, Kerala, Tamild Nadu and Puducherry. Except Tamil Nadu and Puducherry, all other poll-bound states have considerable Muslim population. But, he believes that in absence of any grand alliance in these states, the BJP has good chance to improve its performance.

“The BJP is on the verge of forming a government in Assam. It also has good chance to improve its performance in Kerala and West Bengal. But only if it overcomes its ‘over-confidence’ and rein in its motormouths and behave as a responsible centre-to-right national party,” maintains Kumar.