Samajwadi Party (SP) president Akhilesh Yadav “thinks Muslims are ‘in my pocket’,” said Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) chief Mayawati on Saturday as she tried to wean away the Muslim support from her opponent in western Uttar Pradesh.
Addressing a rally in Saharanpur, which has a substantial number of Muslim and Jatav (Dalit) voters, Ms. Mayawati said the minority community had strongly backed the SP under the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) rule but got nothing in return especially when it came to political representation.
“I want to ask the Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, how many tickets did the SP give you? They [Muslim leaders] served SP for five years and stood by it during good and bad times but when it came to giving them [Muslims] a chance in the election, they didn’t field many Muslims. They gave them fewer tickets,” Ms. Mayawati said.
The former Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister is hoping to attract the Muslim community in western parts of the State where she enjoys a strong core voter base of Dalits.
The formula works best in the Saharanpur division.
Ms. Mayawati referred to the recent experience of popular Muslim leader Imran Masood, who quit the Congress to join the SP but was eventually denied ticket after days of drama and suspense.
“A person who considers himself a big leader of the Muslim community, he went to the SP hoping that bechara [poor fellow] will get ticket. But he had to return with his hands empty,” Ms. Mayawati said, adding that when the SP’s own Muslim leaders were ignored in ticket distribution a “guest” like Mr. Masood did not stand a chance.
The BSP chief also reminded the Muslims about the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal violence under the SP government, saying the incident had broken the “brotherhood” between Jats and Muslims, who suffered loss of life and property.