Muslim Weight Lends Strength to SP, Congress in Riot-Hit Belt
Muzaffarnagar/Shamli: Riot-scarredMuzaffarnagarand Shamli are facing a Muslim polarisation against the BJP with SP-Congress combine being the ir first choice. The Hindu votes are likely to split, as a section of the Jats show an inclination towards RLD. Kairana MP Hukum Singh’s daughter Mriganka, who is contesting on a BJP ticket, appears to be on a weak wicket with Singh’s nephew and RLD candidate Anil Chauhan cutting into her votes.
Here, the chances of winning appear bright for SP candidate Nahid Hasan. Hasan has been countering the BJP charge that there has been migration of Hindus from Kairana due to pressurefromthelocalMuslims.
In Thana Bhawan, BJP candi- date Suresh Rana, an accused in the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots case, is facing a tough opponent in RLD’s Javed Rao, who is being touted as the frontrunner.
Rana was in the news lately for making hate speeches. The Election Commission served him a notice for his remarks. In avideogoneviral,Ranaisheard saying, “If Suresh Rana wins the election again, curfew will be imposed i n Kairana, Deoband and Moradabad. March 11 will be the date and a procession will move from Shamli to Thanabhawan with slogans of Bharat Mata ki Jai.”
Ranahadwontheseatin2012by a margin of less than 300 votes.
In Shamli, Congress leader Pankaj Malik is the SP-Congress candidate.Hehadwontheseatin 2012 as a Congress candidate with RLD support. Son of Harendra Malik, a for mer CongressMPwhowasbookedin the Muzaffarnagar riots, Pankaj MLC Virendra Singh Gujjar, as its candidate before the SPCongress alliance was formed. Chauhanhasrebelledandiscontesting as an independent candidate. He will cut into the votes of both SP and the BJP.
In Muzaffarnagar, the fight is said to be between SP-Congress and the BJP. SP candidate Gaur av S war u p, son of ChitaranjanSwarup,hadwonin 2012 and was a minister in the Akhilesh Yadav government. His death in 2015 led to a by-election. Despite voters’ sympathy, Gaurav, who was fielded by SP, lost to Kapil Dev Agarwal of the BJP. But locals maintain that Gaurav lost as the BSP did not put up a candidate and the Dalit votes went to Agarwal.
Meanwhile, Muslim voters in the constituency are overwhelmingly in support of the SP-Congress alliance. This is likely to make the going tough for Agarwal.