Lucknow, March 27: A Supreme Court rap over official carelessness and laxity vis-a-vis the Muzaffarnagar communal riots is bad news for the ruling Samjwadi Party ahead of the Lok Sabha election.
As opposition parties bay for Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s ouster, his party is haunted by the spectre of losing the crucial Muslim vote in western Uttar Pradesh April 10.
The father-son duo of Mulayam Singh Yadav and Akhilesh Yadav have been fire-fighting since the violence left 63 people dead and thousands homeless.
They felt they had succeeded somewhat — in putting the blot on the government behind them.
Insiders in the chief minister’s office admit that the wounds of the riot victims have been revisited after the judicial rap.
While hearing a petition on the riots that singed Muzaffarnagar and nearby areas in September, the apex court Wednesday said that prima facie the state government failed in the initial phases of the violence.
The rebuke, old-timers warn, would spur fresh polarization among the Muslims and Jats in the region.
Muslim votes might now get evenly divided between Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD), the Congress and the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP).
The Samajwadi Party, many feel, will only get fringe votes in the area. This will eventually help the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) as Muslim and non-Muslim votes fragment.
The BJP is looking for major gains in the sprawling region. It is significant that BJP’s prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi began his Uttar Pradesh campaign from Bulandshahr in the region.
He is scheduled to address more rallies there including in Baghpat. Mayawati too has meetings lined up in Bijnore and Aligarh. Mulayam Singh and Akhielsh Yadav will address rallies at Baghpat, Hapur, Aligarh, Ghaziabad, Meerut, Bijnore, Kairana and Muzaffarnagar.
The sizeable Jat community is cut up with the Samajwadi Party for what it says is police victimization after the riots.
A businessman from the powerful Baliyan community told IANS that the ruling party would be taught a lesson in the election.
Even insiders in the Samajwadi Party admit the court observations have nipped the hopes of its revival in western Uttar Pradesh.
The BJP won only 10 of Uttar Pradesh’s 80 seats in the 2009 Lok Sabha election. Its calculation is that it should sweep the state so that it is able to form a government in New Delhi.
The Lok Sabha seats in the region include Meerut, Muzaffarnagar, Saharanpur, Bijnore, Bulandshahr, Ghaziabad, Hapur, Khurja, Amroha, Baghpat, Rampur and Kairana.
The Congress, many feel, has no stakes in the region and has left things to its alliance partner, the RLD.
Of the 6,405 people booked after the riots, only 390 have been arrested in the last six months. Final reports have been given in some 50 cases and chargesheets served in just 42 cases.
The tardy investigation has hurt Muslims, who blame the Samajwadi Party for failing to protect them and ensure justice.
Ghulam Mohammad Jaula, a prominent activist, accuses the police of doing nothing even as thousands of accused roam free in this election season.