Bijnor has been a BSP stronghold, with four of the eight assembly seats in the district going to Mayawati’s party in 2012. SP could win only two but wrested Bijnor city seat from BJP in the bypoll held after the 2014 polls.
Two of the eight seats, Nagina and Nehtaur, are reserved. Polling in Bijnor district will be held on February 15. As part of her overtures to the Muslims, Mayawati has fielded 97 candidates from the minority community.
In Bijnor, barring the two reserved seats, all BSP candidates are Muslims. SP has fielded four Muslims, giving hope to BJP that the minority votes will get divided.
On September 16, 2016, a clash had broken out between groups of Hindus and Muslims in Pedha village in Bijnor. Three Muslims were killed when some men allegedly associated with RSS opened fire.
More than two dozen men allegedly involved in the case are still in jail. RSS member and advocate Aishwarya Chaudhary is one of them. BJP has given the ticket to his wife Suchi Chaudhary.
Her main opponent is said to be Rashid Ahmed of BSP while SP’s Ruchi Vira, the sitting MLA, is a strong contender too. RLD has fielded Rahul Singh. Suchi’s father Sunil, a senior RSS leader in Bijnor, is running her campaign.
“False cases were filed against these 27 men in the September violence. Many of those charge sheeted had reached the spot after the violence was over. In some cases, more than one member of a family has been jailed. No Muslims were arrested,” Sunil Chaudhary told ET.
Communal tension flared up again when 17-year old Vishal was murdered on Friday, allegedly by a group of local Muslims. This has led to the further polarisation in the run-up to the polling day.
BJP is hopeful the Jat voters, as well as MBCs — Saini and Pal —and non-Jatav Dalits from Kashyap, Dhobi, Prajapati, Valmiki and Bhuiyar (weavers) communities, will vote for it.
BSP is banking on the polarisation of votes, with Muslims and Jatavs said to be voting for Ahmed. Sitting MLA Ruchi Vira, who runs educational institutions in the area, is said to be facing some anti-incumbency.
“Vira won the bypoll as the whole administration of the SP government aided her. All efforts were made to defeat HP Singh, the BJP candidate,” said Mayank, an RSS worker.
The communal overtones here may spill over to the other seven assembly seats in the district — Najibabad, Barhapur, Dhampur, Chandpur, Noorpur, Nagina (SC) and Nehtaur (SC).
SP had won Nagina and Dhampur in 2012. BJP has fielded Kamlesh Saini in Chandpur against Mohammad Iqbal of BSP, the sitting MLA. Iqbal, a local strongman who is said to be involved in sand mining, had won this seat in 2007 and 2012.
Ashok Rana, who defected from BSP, is the BJP candidate in Dhampur. He is fighting against Mohammad Ghazi of BSP while Moolchand Chauhan, environment minister in Akhilesh government, is the SP candidate. Om Kumar, BJP candidate in Nehtaur (SC) had won this seat on an SP ticket in 2012.
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