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Why UP is a fertile ground for hate politics

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Population aligned: Muslims won over 31% of the seats in the 2012 urban local body elections. PTI Aunindyo Chakravarty Senior Journalist

Every five years, just ahead of the Assembly elections, Uttar Pradesh becomes a hotbed of communal politics. It has started once again, ranging from subtle references to Aurangzeb and Shivaji to outright hate speeches and calls for the ethnic cleansing of Muslims. It is easy to believe that these are the handiwork of cynical politicians who polarise the electorate to get votes. And that is partly true. Netas light up the fuel of religious discord and their party workers actively spread the fire. But this approach does not explain why it is so easy to weaponise religious differences in UP.

Some of the reasons for this can be found in the history, demographics and political economy of the state. While Muslims make up less than 20 per cent of UP’s population, they are heavily concentrated in its towns and cities. In the state’s villages, only one in every six persons is a Muslim, but in urban areas that number rises to one in three. According to a report by the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS) — whose board of […]

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