Mus­lim Weight Lends Strength to SP, Congress in Riot-Hit Belt

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics -

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.

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