Phase 1 Crucial for BJP; SP-Cong, BSP Sense Op­por­tu­nity

Jats ap­pear to be di­vid­ing votes be­tween RLD and BJP while Mus­lims are likely to vote for party that can de­feat BJP

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

New Delhi: Polling for the po­lit­i­cally crucial state of UP will be­gin on Satur­day with 73 con­stituen­cies spread over 15 districts of the west­ern part vot­ing in the first phase in which the siz­able pres­ence of Mus­lims and Jats will play an im­por­tant role in de­cid­ing the fate of SP-Congress com­bine, BJP, BSP and RLD.

Though the shadow of the 2013 ri­ots is still cast in the area, es­pe­cially the Shamli-Muzaf­far­na­gar-Meerut belt, the Jats to have moved on. Un­like the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions, they are di­vid­ing their votes be­tween the RLD and BJP. The Mus­lims, how­ever, give clear in­di­ca­tions that they will vote for whichever party is in a po­si­tion to de­feat the BJP in a par­tic­u­lar con­stituency. Polling will be held in ri­otscarred Shamli and Muzaf­far­na­gar, Meerut, Bhag­pat, Ghazi­abad, Gau­tam Bud­dha Na­gar, Ha­pur, Bu­land­shahr, Ali­garh, Mathura, Hathras, Agra, Firoz­abad, Etah and Kas­ganj on Fe­bru­ary11.

BJP has tried to po­larise the elec­tions in the west­ern part of UP with the likes of Yogi Adityanath, Hukum Singh, San­jeev Balyan, Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana mak­ing re­marks tar­get­ing Mus­lims. The party has raised the is­sue of Hindu mi­gra­tion from Kairana and Shamli un­der pres­sure from lo­cal Mus­lims, cow slaugh­ter, Mus­lim boys woo­ing Hindu girls. The party has promised in its man­i­festo that it will close down slaugh­ter houses and form Anti-Romeo squads (which are seen largely as a move to curb ‘Love Ji­had’).

How­ever, the Jats ap­pear dis­en­chanted with the BJP due to the de­vel­op­ments since the 2014 Lok Sabha elec­tions. Lo­cals talk about the way the BJP gov­ern­ment in Haryana quelled the Jat ag­i­ta­tion for reser­va­tion, not get­ting sug­ar­cane dues, de­mon­e­ti­za­tion and a host of is­sues on which they feel the Cen­tre as well as the Sa­ma­jwadi Party gov­ern­ment has let them down.

Jats votes are likely to split be­tween BJP and Ajit Singh-led RLD. This can up­set BJP cal­cu­la­tions in many con­stituen­cies go­ing to polls in this phase. BJP is bank­ing on the non-Jatav Dalit and the Most Back­ward Caste votes in this re­gion. How­ever,

MA­JOR FAC­TOR

RLD has fielded non-Jat can­di­dates (like Gu­j­jars or from MBCs like Sai­nis, Pal), which will dent BJP.

Mus­lims, who rep­re­sent more than 30% of the elec­torate in sev­eral con­stituen­cies of west­ern UP, will de­cide the fate of the polls to a great ex­tent. While SP-Congress com­bine is their first choice, BSP is a clear gainer in seats where the al­liance has put up a weak can­di­date. Sev­eral con­stituen­cies are wit­ness­ing in­ter­est­ing con­tests and prom­i­nent lead­ers are in the fray in many seats. Sangeet Som (Sard­hana), Ra­j­nath Singh’s son Pankaj (Noida), Suresh Rana (Thana Bhawan), Laxmikant Ba­j­pai (Meerut), Srikant Sharma (Mathura), Hukum Singh’s daugh­ter Mri­g­anka (Kairana), Nahid Hasan (Shamli), Shahid Man­zoor (Kithore) are some of the im­por­tant can­di­dates in the fray.

ZAHID

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