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

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.

Updated: Feb 10, 2017, 01.31 AM IST
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SP had already declared Manish Chauhan, son of party MLC Virendra Singh Gujjar, as its candidate before the SPCongress alliance was formed.
SP had already declared Manish Chauhan, son of party MLC Virendra Singh Gujjar, as its candidate before the SPCongress alliance was formed.
MUZAFFARNAGAR/SHAMLI: Riot-scarred Muzaffarnagar and 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 pressure from the local Muslims.

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

In Thana Bhawan, BJP candidate 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 a video gone viral, Rana is heard saying, “If Suresh Rana wins the election again, curfew will be imposed in 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.”

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

Rana had won the seat in 2012 by a margin of less than 300 votes.

In Shamli, Congress leader Pankaj Malik is the SP-Congress candidate. He had won the seat in 2012 as a Congress candidate with RLD support. Son of Harendra Malik, a former Congress MP who was booked in the Muzaffarnagar riots, Pankaj is contesting against Vijendra Malik (RLD) and Mohammad Islam (BSP). Roughly 30% of the voters in Shamli are Muslims. Jats number around 72,000 and Gujjars 22,000. The outcome would largely be determined by the Muslims.

SP had already declared Manish Chauhan, son of party MLC Virendra Singh Gujjar, as its candidate before the SPCongress alliance was formed. Chauhan has rebelled and is contesting as an independent candidate. He will cut into the votes of both SP and the BJP.

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

In Muzaffarnagar, the fight is said to be between SP-Congress and the BJP. SP candidate Gaurav Swarup, son of Chitaranjan Swarup, had won in 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.

============== RakeshMohan.Chaturvedi BJP Banks on Most Backwards to Take it Forward In Meerut Belt

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.

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.

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.

“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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