With nearly 20% population, the Muslim community is set to play a decisive role in the upcoming elections in Uttar Pradesh, which has the highest number of Lok Sabha seats (80).
It is crucial for all non-BJP parties such as the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress to win over the Muslims in UP, which will see BJP's prime minister nominee Narendra Modi contesting from Varanasi.
The ruling SP has fielded 13 candidates from the Muslim community, while the Congress has fielded none. The BSP and the Aam Aadmi Party have 19 and 17 Muslim candidates, respectively. However, the SP and the BSP have received a jolt after Bukhari criticised both the parties.
Given the BJP's edge, thanks to Modi, the community is likely to opt for tactical voting to defeat the party. "The community is keenly watching the strength of non-BJP players, and are likely to vote on a seat-to-seat basis," said Maulana Khalid Rashid Firangimahli, Imam of Lucknow Eidgah and senior member of All India Muslim Personal Law Board.
As many as 22 seats here have more than 20% Muslim voters. In 33 seats, the Muslim vote share is between 10% and 19%.
Turnout of Muslim voters is also likely to rise this time in order to combat 'Modi wave'. "The media hype has awakened the community to the threat posed by Modi," said Zafaryab Jilani, convenor of All India Babri Masjid Action panel. However, Jilani did not rule out of the possibility of division of Muslim votes.
That is why the Jamiat-Ulema Hind (Arshad Madni group), which exercises considerable influence through chain of clerics across UP, has summoned a state meeting in Lucknow next week to mobilise the community.