Muslim voters play a decisive role on the majority of constituencies in Western UP where people will cast their votes in the first phase of election. While fortunes of BJP’s rival parties depend on ‘ polarisation’ of Muslims in their support,’ the saffron party’s success largely depend on ‘togetherness of non -Muslim voters.’
Though political parties avoid accepting the fact in public and usually claim of bagging votes on the name of development and not caste or religion, but , it is a fact that their election strategists always keep a close eye on swing of voters especially Muslims. It is also evident during distribution of tickets on 37 constituencies of the region where people will go to polls on February 11. While BJP has not given ticket to any Muslim candidates, its rival parties have attempted to woo Muslim voters by fielding many candidates of their clan.
Mayawati with her base vote bank of Dalits wants to add Muslim voters and to do so she has given tickets to 16 Muslim candidates in 37 constituencies of the region. The party had bagged 13 seats in the region in previous assembly election of 2012 where it won on the Muslim-Dalit combine.
Meanwhile, the alliance of ruling Samajwadi Party and Congress could become a matter of concern for the BSP and the BJP both because majority of Muslim voters still have their inclination towards the SP in the state. They could accept alliance as a bigger force than Mayawati against Modi and under such circumstance they will prefer casting their votes in favour of the alliance instead of the BSP. Prof of political science in CCS University Sanjeev Sharma says, “Muslims generally cast their vote in favour of those whom they believe could defeat BJP.” The BJP now has only one option to polarise ‘maximum ‘Hindu votes’ in its favour to counter polarisation of Muslim votes in support of the alliance or the BSP.
The Samajwadi Party and Congress have fielded 25 and 13 candidates respectively on 37 seats of the region. Meanwhile, the BJP has sent a message of ‘ Hindutva’ among its voters by not fielding any Muslim candidate on 37 seats of the region. The party won only in eight seats of the region in previous election and later it also won the by election of Muzaffarnagar. It, however, won all 14 seats of Lok Sabha in the region in general election of 2014, which was held seven months after the Muzaffarnagar riot and ‘polarisation’ worked in favour of the party.
However, Ajit Singh’s RLD received sever political jolt in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. Ajit Singh and son Jayant Choudhary lost because its traditional Muslim voters deserted the party, which lost its winning ‘Jat-Muslim’ equation on its home turf. After failing to be a part of SP-Cong alliance, RLD decided to go alone in the lection and has fielded candidates in 36 out of 37 constituencies of the region and given ticket to 7 Muslim candidates in its bid to revive its equation of ‘ Jat-Muslim’ by winning confidence of Muslim voters. The party won three seats in the region in 2012 and it could play a spoilsport for rival parties in the election because its traditional Jat voters is expected to come in the fold of RLD.