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UP Elections 2017: BJP banks on most backwards to take it forward in Meerut belt

Jatavs constitute over 50% of the Dalits and in constituencies where BSP has fielded a Muslim candidate, the combination can make Mayawati’s party invincible.

Updated: Feb 10, 2017, 01.33 AM IST
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The Muslims maintain that SP-Congress alliance is their first choice.
The Muslims maintain that SP-Congress alliance is their first choice.
MUZAFFARNAGAR/SHAMLI/MEERUT: With the Muslims backing either the SP-Congress alliance or BSP and the Jatavs unflinchingly supporting Mayawati, BJP is banking on the Most Backward Castes in UP to add to its traditional vote bank to cross the victory mark.

Jatavs constitute over 50% of the Dalits and in constituencies where BSP has fielded a Muslim candidate, the combination can make Mayawati’s party invincible. Most seats in western UP have a high Muslim population.

Also read: BJP will finish at no. 3 from top or no. 1 from bottom in UP: Lalu Prasad Yadav

The Muslims maintain that SP-Congress alliance is their first choice. However, this narrative changes wherever the alliance candidate is not strong enough to defeat BJP candidate.

While the Muslims have polarised against BJP, the Hindus have not done so as was witnessed in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. The Jat and Gujjar votes are divided between BJP and RLD. Making the battle tough for BJP, RLD has fielded non-Jat candidates in several constituencies, weaning away the backward caste votes from the saffron party.

In this scenario, BJP is banking heavily on the MBCs and the non-Jatav Dalits.

Also read: UP Elections 2017 - Lalu Prasad enters scene, seeks votes for son-in-law Rahul Yadav

BJP is confident that among the backwards, Saini and Pal will vote for it. While Valmikis, Kashyap, Prajapati, Bhuiyar (weaver) and Dhobi castes among Dalits will back them.

“BSP has fielded 97 Muslims and hence the EBC polarisation will be with us,” BJP leader Swatantra Dev told ET.

The 2013 riots still rankle the Muslim voters. Locals in Muzaffarnagar said while the rural areas have cooled downthe Muslim labourers are back and working in the sugarcane fields - there have been clashes off and on in the city.

Also read: UP Elections 2017 - Muslim weight lends strength to SP, Congress in riot-hit belt

“In many cases, the panchayats have prevented the situation from becoming communal. But when it comes to voting, Muslims are against BJP,” Bablu Khatik, a local youth, said.

The BJP cadre in west UP concedes that RLD will play a spoiler even if it does not manage to win many seats.“RLD will divide Jat votes, unlike in 2014,” a local BJP leader said.

Moreover, the massive support that BJP enjoyed in the 2014 elections is definitely missing. “The Modi wave is not what it was in 2014. That was a different euphoria,” a senior BJP leader said.

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