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