Twenty-three-year-old Israr Ali from Usmanpur village in Dankaur has not been going to his college for the last one week as he has been busy campaigning for the Bharartiya Janata Paraty’s Jewar assembly segment candidate.
A final year MBA student of the Chaudhary Charan Singh University, Ali minces words in extending support to the BJP candidate Dhirendra Singh despite his hatred for the saffron party. “I and the other Muslims have no love lost with the BJP. In fact, we abhor the lotus. We are with Thakur Dhirendra Singh and not with the BJP,” Ali said.
He is not the only Muslim who is supporting the BJP candidate in Jewar. A large number of people in Usmanpur, Achheja, Atta, Deri, Adalpur, Kharli, Anwargarh, Mehendipur, Sujadpur, Daula, Mandpa and Bilaspur -- the Muslim dominated villages in Jewar -- are also extending support to the BJP candidate. They can be seen accompanying Singh during his campaign in the area.
Nazakat, 24, from Anwargarh, said he has been spending 12 to 14 hours a day campaigning with Singh. “I have known Thakur saheb since my childhood. He has worked a lot for the area even though he was not an MLA. When he was with the Congress, he always stood by the weak and the downtrodden. It does not matter even if he is with the BJP now. We have full faith in him,” he said.
Mohd Yasin from Rabupura said Singh came second in the last assembly elections but this time around he was sure of Singh’s victory. “We voted for him in the last election when he was with the Congress. It does not matter even if he is with the BJP now. We need him and we will vote in large numbers to make sure he wins,” Yasin, 46, who is a cattle trader, said.
Bahujan Samaj Party’s Vedram Bhati (67,524 votes) won the election from Jewar and Congress’s Dhirendra Singh (58,024 votes) came second in the 2012 poll.
Explaining what will win Muslims votes for Singh besides his popularity among the masses, Ali said the Muslims in the area have a strong bonding with the Rajputs. “Our forefathers were Rajputs before they embraced Islam. We have some customs that are common with Rajputs. We do not like the BJP, but Thakur saheb is our leader. My father and grandfather have been very closely associated with him,” he said.
Singh, who resigned from the Congress to join the BJP just before the elections were announced, believes that thousands of Muslims in his constituency are going to vote for him. “I know that the lotus does not appeal to the Muslims. But they have seen me work with them for maintaining communal harmony in the area for decades. There are nearly 32,000 Muslim voters in Jewar. As per my calculation, only 20,000 of them will cast their vote and over 12,000 Muslims will vote for me,” he said, claiming that no other BJP candidate in Uttar Pradesh will get as many Muslim votes.