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HindustanTimes Fri,22 Aug 2014

3.5 lakh votes is what a candidate needs in west UP, says BSP leader

Rajesh Ahuja , Hindustan Times  Saharanpur/Muzaffarnagar/Baghpat, April 09, 2014
First Published: 19:47 IST(9/4/2014) | Last Updated: 20:06 IST(9/4/2014)

A candidate winning 3.5 lakh votes could have the last laugh in the sugarcane belt of western Uttar Pradesh, says Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Dr Purushottam.

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Ten seats in the area, including riot-hit Muzaffarnagar, vote on Thursday in the first phase of elections in UP amid tight security. Hate speeches have raised the temperature in the sensitive region in the campaigning phase.

"That's the figure (3.5 lakh) we have for a winning candidate and our party can easily reach it," says Purushottam, zonal convenor of the BSP for Muzaffarnagar, Kairana and Saharanpur constituencies.

In 2009, winning candidates got around 2.3 to 2.8 lakh votes in most of the seats that go to polls on Thursday.

In Saharanpur and Ghaziabad, the winning candidates got 3.54 and 3.59 lakh votes, respectively. BSP's Rajkumari Chauhan won in Aligarh by bagging just 1.93 lakh votes.

But, political parties expect a higher voter turnout this year.

"Voters have increased in all constituencies. Due to the Narendra Modi factor and the riots of last year, passions are also running high... more voters may come out than the last time," says Arun Singh Pundir, national secretary of Ajit Singh's Rashtriya Lok Dal.

There is a big talk that the fight is between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the BSP. The ruling Samajwadi Party had won just one seat in 2009.

BSP chief Mayawati has openly talked about her Dalit 'vote bank' and winning equation with Muslims at her rallies in western UP to take on a resurgent BJP, which is banking on Jat and upper caste votes.

"We have Dalits with us and Muslims are coming to our fold after Behenji's (Mayawati's) rallies in the area, as they know only we can stop Narendra Modi here," adds Purushottam.

Political observers believe that when BJP general secretary and Modi's aide, Amit Shah, allegedly termed the elections an opportunity to take revenge for the riots, he was trying to reach out to Dalits and OBCs.

"BJP is trying to polarise the contest between Hindus and Muslims. It has been successful in wooing a sizable chunk of OBCs such as Prajapatis, Pals and Kashyaps. But Dalits, especially Jatav voters, have not broken ranks with Mayawati till now," says Rounak Ali Zaidi, a lawyer in Muzaffarnagar.

However, the BJP is hopeful of denting Mayawati's support base. The party is also banking division of Muslim votes, especially in seats where non-BSP candidates are from the minority community, according to Zaidi.  

"Most of the OBCs supporting us and at least 40% of the Dalits will vote for us due to (BJP's prime minister nominee) Modi," says Kapil Dev Agarwal, who is in charge of the Mauzaffarnagar seat for the party.


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