Uttar pradesh

Assembly elections | Mayawati banks on Muslim candidates in west Uttar Pradesh

BSP supremo Mayawati. File

BSP supremo Mayawati. File

In western Uttar Pradesh, where it performed poorly in the last election, the Bahujan Samaj Party is once again banking on Muslim candidates. Out of the 109 candidates declared by the BSP for the first two phases of the election in west UP, 40 are Muslim, making it 36.7 %.

While Muslims are roughly one-fifth of the state’s population, in western UP they are much higher often touching and going beyond 35-40 % in some districts.

That the BSP is fielding considerable number of Muslim candidates in the west may cause concerns for the SP-RLD alliance which was hoping to consolidate the Muslim voters in the region along with agrarian communities, primarily the Jats and Gurjars, to make the most of the farmers protest.

In the first phase of election for 58 seats covering parts of the sugarcane belt and districts adjoining the NCR, the BSP fielded 17 Muslims. This included three Muslims out of total six candidates in communally-sensitive Muzaffarnagar district, which witnessed communal violence in 2013 when the SP was in power, polarizing the entire region on communal lines.

In its second list of 51 candidates for the second phase, mostly covering the districts in Rohilkhand region as well as the northern-most Saharanpur district, the BSP has fielded 23 Muslims. The BSP had failed to win a single seat in this region in 2017, when its overall tally was reduced to 19 despite a decent vote share of 22%.

In Saharanpur, which has a considerable population of Muslims as well as the BSP’s core Jatav (Dalit) voters, Mayawati has banked on three Muslims, including Congress turncoat Noman Masood who had lost the Gangoh seat on a Congress ticket last election. In Bijnor, the BSP has fielded Muslims on five out of seven seats. In Moradabad, where the SP is traditionally strong, the BSP has fielded Muslims on five out six seats. In Sambhal, out of four candidates, three are Muslim while in Rampur two out of five are Muslim.

When BSP spokesperson Faizan Khan was asked if the party was fielding so many Muslims out of desperation to get back into the narrative, he said the party believed in giving representation to each community as per its share in population. “Jiski kitni sankhya bhari, uski utni hissedari (Representation as per population),” said Mr. Khan.

Ms. Mayawati also released a new slogan for her party workers. “Har polling booth jo jitana hain, BSP ko satta mein lana hain(We must win every booth and bring the BSP to power).”

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Printable version | May 13, 2022 8:41:07 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/elections/uttar-pradesh-assembly/assembly-elections-mayawati-banks-on-muslim-candidates-in-west-uttar-pradesh/article38310299.ece