Dal­its Sup­port BSP, Mus­lims Look for Best Per­son to Beat BJP in Meerut

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - RakeshMo­han.Chaturvedi @times­group.com

Meerut: Most of the seven Assem­bly con­stituen­cies that fall in Meerut dis­trict are wit­ness­ing a keen con­test, with the Mus­lims giv­ing clear in­di­ca­tions that un­like in the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions, they willvot­ede­ci­sive­ly­for­whichev­er­can­di­date is in a po­si­tion to de­feat the BJP while the Dal­its are ral­ly­ing strongly be­hind BSP.

The last Lok Sabha elec­tions had seen a po­lar­i­sa­tion of Hindu votes in favour of the BJP. How­ever, this time the Hin­dus ap­pear to be di­vided and there are signs that they will vote for the can­di­date from their caste oronewho­is­most­favourably­dis­posed­toit.

In Sard­hana Assem­bly seat, Sangeet Som of the BJP is the star can­di­date. He gained fame in the wake of the 2013 Muzaf­fana­gar com­mu­nal ri­ots when he made some con­tro­ver­sial re­marks. He is the sit­ting MLA from this con­stituency but is fac­ing some anti-in­cum­bency. Be­long­ing to the Thakur caste, Som has over­whelm­ing sup­port among the youth. But the Jats are di­vided this time, mak­ing the bat­tle up­hill for Som.

BSP has fielded Imran Qureshi, son of Haji Yakoob Qureshi, who had an­nounced a re­ward of ₹ 51 crore for any­body who would be­head the Danish car­toon­ist who made a car­i­ca­ture of Prophet Mo­ham­mad.

Atul Prad­han, a pop­u­lar lo­cal leader be­long­ing to the Gu­j­jar caste is the SP can­di­date. Mus­lims are present in size­able num­bers in all the sev­en­con­stituen­cies. In Sard­hana,there­arearound90,000Mus­lims, ac­cord­ing to lo­cal lead­ers. They are in two minds on where they should cast their vote be­tween the SP and BSP. Lo­cals con­fided that who­ever ap­pears to be in a po­si­tion to de­feat Som will get the Mus­lim votes.

Asked about his prospects, Som said his main­con­testiswith­Qureshi.Hede­manded that the Elec­tion Com­mis­sion should look into com­plaints that Qureshi is spend­ing a lot of money in th­ese elec­tions.

Qureshi’s fol­low­ers praise him for of­fer­ing free food daily to hun­dreds of peo­ple dur­ingth­is­cam­paign.“Peo­ple­likeQureshi do not say Vande Mataram. They sup­port ter­ror­ism. If of­fer­ing a re­ward of ₹ 51 Crore for be­head­ing some­body is not ter­ror­ism than what is it?” Som told ET. Some of the anger against the BJP gov­ern­ment at the Cen­tre on the is­sue of de­mon­eti­sa­tion and Jat re­seser­va­tion may also af­fect Som’s chances as Jats are present in big num­bers in this con­stituency. Laxmikant Ba­j­pai, exBJP UP unit chief, is the party can­di­date from Meerut Assem­bly seat. He has won this seat four times, in­clud­ing in 2012. “Among the is­sues on my agenda is the es­tab­lish­ment of a High Court bench in Meerut,” Ba­j­pai said. How­ever, he seems to be fac­ing a tough bat­tle against the SP can­di­date, Rafiq An­sari. The traders, who con­sti­tutea­ma­jorchunkof theBJPvoteinthis seat, are un­happy due to de­mon­eti­sa­tion.

BJP MLA Sangeet Som

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