As the candidates fielded by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance are all from the Gujjar community, Muslim voters hold the key to deciding the winner.
A large number of Muslims, who had voted for the BSP in the previous elections, might tilt the balance if they favour the SP-Congress alliance. The Muslim community is the third largest in Dadri, after the Gujjars and Dalits.
BSP, being the arch-rival of Samajwadi Party, is likely to shift its loyalty to the BJP to prevent an SP-Congress victory. With BSP votes getting divided, Muslim voters are going to be a crucial factor in the election.
As per an estimate, Dadri has 4,40,424 voters, of which 1.2 lakh belong to the Gujjar community, 85,000 to the Dalit community, 52,000 to the Muslim community. The other sizeable communities in the district are Thakurs (35,000), Brahmins (30,000) and Baniyas (15,000).
Haji Yunus Malik, 65, from Nai Abadi in Dadri town, said that the majority of Muslims are going to vote for the SP-Congress candidate Samir Bhati. “Since most Muslims here are with the SP, we will vote for Samir. Even if 35,000 Muslims vote for him, Samir has a good chance of getting elected. He became MLA after his father Mahender Bhati, who was an MLA for two terms from Dadri, was killed. He is an influential person with a very good network. He will also get a good number of votes from his own community,” he said.
Samir had won the Dadri assembly seat on an SP ticket. He switched to BSP in 2009 and joined the Congress before 2012 assembly polls. He contested on a Congress ticket from Dadri but lost.
BJP candidate from Dadri, Tejpal Singh Nagar, was with the BSP before joining the saffron party about two years ago. He is contesting the assembly elections on a BJP ticket for the first time.
BSP’s sitting MLA Satveer Singh Gurjar won the Dadri seat twice in 2007 and 2012. He is contesting again from Dadri but is facing anti-incumbency. “We never saw him in our area in the last 10 years, except twice — at the time of seeking votes in 2007 and 2012. Look at the condition of the roads, there is no development in the area,” Vishal Goyal, who runs a sweets shop at Surajpur, said.
Another resident of Surajpur, Madan Lal Gautam, a BSP supporter, said,“When the battle lines are drawn not on the basis of issues, caste becomes a deciding factor. Even the major political parties have given the ticket to the candidates from the same community who dominate the area.”
While a large number of voters in Dadri feel that it is a contest among the BJP, BSP and the SP-Cong alliance, some said that Rashtriya Lok Dal’s Ravindra Singh Bhati will further divide the votes of the majority community.
“RLD’s Ravindra Bhati is nowhere in the reckoning. However, he has the potential to get some votes from the Gujjar community. The other three main contenders are also Gujjars. It will be a division of Gujjar votes among them. It is difficult to assess as to who will garner more votes from their community, so they are hoping for the support of other communities. The BJP is banking on Rajputs, Brahmins and Baniyas. The BSP has the Dalit support and the SP will get the Muslim votes,” Mange Ram Sharma, a resident of Brahmpuri in Dadri town, said.