LUCKNOW - Congress general secretary Rahul Gandhi paid a visit on Sunday, December 11, to Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulama Muslim University, amid a series of visits to woo Muslim population in Uttar Pradesh province ahead of 2012 elections.
"You must understand that the Congress was getting back to the main arena of elections in the state after a gap of nearly two decades," Rahul said in a reminder of his active involvement in state affairs in 2007, Two Circles website reported.
We were virtually out of the political battleground between 1991 and 2007, after which we got down to re-building the party from a scratch.
The visit to the Muslim University was the second phase of Gandhi's five-day tour as part of his campaign in Uttar Pradesh.
Gandhi, who is leaving no stone unturned in giving a tough fight to the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) in the forthcoming state assembly elections, has so far visited various parts of the state.
He has focused equally on the lower caste Dalits, Muslims, socially backward classes and marginalized Hindus during his visits to Uttar Pradesh.
According to reports, Gandhi will address 19 public meetings in seven districts during his five-day tour.
The Uttar Pradesh elections, which are scheduled in the early part of 2012, is being seen as a stepping-stone for the Congress Party to establish a firm political base in India's fifth largest and most populous state before the 2014 general elections.
The moves were seen as an attempt to woo Muslims who have deserted the Congress after 1992 Babri Masjid demolition.
A day earlier, Rahul addressed his party workers in Uttar Pradesh province, announcing that Muslim reservation in a job quota will be soon implemented.
"We will keep our commitment of providing reservation to minorities in the state," Gandhi told a gathering of party office-bearers at the state Congress headquarter.
"We will do it soon," he declared amidst applause.
He called upon party members to work hard for victory in 2012.
"If you all take a vow and have the determination to win the coming election in Uttar Pradesh, I am sure nothing can stop you from attaining your goal," he said.
There are some 140 million Muslims in Hindu-majority India and they have long complained of being discriminated against in all walks of life.
Muslims complain of decades of social and economic neglect and oppression.
Official figures reveal Muslims log lower educational levels and higher unemployment rates than the Hindu majority and other minorities like Christians and Sikhs.
They account for less than seven percent of public service employees, only five percent of railways workers, around four percent of banking employees and there are only 29,000 Muslims in India's 1.3 million-strong military.