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Ulema appeals no longer impact Muslim voters: Professor


Press Trust of India New Delhi
There was a time when political parties waited for the Ulema (religious leaders) to support them and fetch the Muslim votes during an election, but in the last couple of years, influence of these appeals have reduced, according to a professor.
Hilal Ahmed, associate professor at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), told PTI that it is a misconception that Muslims vote on the Ulema's appeal.
"Actually, Muslims voted according to their personal choice and everyday life, and the appeals do not affect them," Ahmed said.
An Ulema is a body of Muslim scholars having knowledge of Islamic law and theology.
Yusuf Naki, an advocate in the Delhi High Court, corroborated the claim, saying the appeal of the maulanas during elections does not affect anyone.
"Now there is no effect of any appeals on Muslims. At least Muslims in Delhi do not vote for any maulana or imam's appeal," said Mohammad Umar, 39, who runs a chemist shop in Old Delhi.
According to Ahmed, the appeals from the Ulema started in the 1967 general election for then prime minister Indira Gandhi. The word "Muslim vote bank" was used for the first time, he added.
Such appeals were given again by Imam Abdullah Bukhari of the Jama Masjid in Delhi, for Indira Gandhi in 1973 and the Janata Party in the 1977 elections.
In 1980 and 1984, Bukhari again asked people to vote for the Congress, he supported V P Singh in 1989 and again Congress in 1992.
More such appeals were seen in different parts of the country, supporting different parties. For instance, the Ulema appealed for the Samajwadi Party in 2012 and the Bahujan Samaj Party in the 2017 Uttar Pradesh Assembly election. In 2015, the Ulema expressed support for the Aam Admi Party in the Delhi Assembly election.

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First Published: Mar 31 2019 | 8:35 PM IST

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