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    UP polls: Parties go all out to woo Muslim voters

    Azamgarh: With less than 24 hours to go before Uttar Pradesh votes in the first phase, all eyes are on the state's large 18 per cent Muslim vote. How crucial will it be this time around?Young Muslims of Uttar Pradesh are debating quota for the Muslims announced by the Congress and the Samajwadi Party.A Muslim voter in Uttar Pradesh Madiur Rehman believes that caste is a reality in India and benefits extended to Hindu backward should be extended to Muslim backwards as well.From quota within quota to sops for the Muslim weavers political parties are going all out to woo this crucial 18 per cent constituency of Muslim voters, but their announcements are seen with skepticism.The experts say that issues among Muslims are similar to that of others hence the political class may get it wrong by thinking of them as an en-masse voting block.Political scientist Zoya Hasan said, "It's a myth to say that Muslims vote en-block. Muslim vote has gone to the SP, the BSP and the Congress, if they were to vote en-block the way dalits have been voting for the BSP then one of the three parties could have won the elections quite easily, that’s not the case."When Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi came campaigning to Azamgarh last month the students of Shibli National College showed him the black flag.The demand for a judicial probe into the Batla House encounter of 2008 has been a long pending one and Muslims of Uttar Pradesh want the terror tag to be removed and are doubtful of the intentions of the Congress party.Fair justice is just one of the many demands of Uttar Pradesh Muslims. What’s at the top of their minds is education and job.