The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) will launch its campaign to consolidate its hold over Muslim voters in west UP on Saturday.
To begin with, the Muslim face of the party, Naseemuddin Siddiqui, will address a series of public meetings in the Muslim dominated areas in the region.
The BSP has fielded 51 Muslim candidates in west UP whereas arch rival Samajwadi Party has given ticket to 44 of them. Both the parties are locked in a bitter fight for the Muslim votes in Rohilkhand area that has large concentration of Muslim voters.
Siddiqui will address public meetings in Bulandshahr, Saharanpur, Muzaffarangar, Meerut, Amroha, Bijnore, Moradabad, Rampur, Hapur, Sambhal and Bareilly till January 31. In all these districts, Muslims constitutes 30%-40% of the population. After Siddiqui completes the ground work by mobilizing the Muslim voters, BSP chief Mayawati will launch her election campaign on February 1 and address public meetings in Meerut and Aligarh. Later, Mayawati will address a series of public meetings in the Rohilkhand region.
Worried over the talks of alliance between the SP and the Congress, Mayawati has cautioned the Muslim voters urging them not to waste their vote by supporting the SP-Congress alliance. “The BSP is in a position to stop BJP from grabbing power whereas the SP- Congress alliance is an opportunistic coalition to create confusion among the voters. The SP is a divided house whereas the Congress has lost its base in UP,” she says.
Talking to HT, a senior BSP leader said, “We have completed first round of electioneering in the Muslim dominated area of west UP by organizing Muslim ‘bhaichara’ (brotherhood) meetings in all the assembly constituencies. In all these meetings, besides highlighting killings and displacement of a large number of Muslims during Muzaffarnagar riots, the BSP also drew the attention of the people toward the neglect of the Muslim community by the SP government. Now, the BSP will highlight the welfare and development schemes launched for the Muslim community by the BSP government (2007-12),” he said.
The party has directed the senior and influential leaders from Muslim community to camp in west UP till the first and second phases of the polling was over. To woo the young voters, Afzal Siddiqui, son of Naseemuddin, has been made in-charge of six divisions in the region.
A political observer RK Gautam says, “Muslim votes will be crucial for Mayawati for returning to power. Since the BJP has made inroads into backward caste votes of the BSP, Mayawati plans to fill up the gap by winning the support of the Muslims. She has given large chunk of tickets to Muslims, 97 to be precise. In 2012 assembly elections, Mayawati had fielded 61 Muslim candidates.”