Dirtier is better seems to be the mantra for winning tickets in riot-hit western Uttar Pradesh this election. All major parties in the state are expected to field candidates whose names were linked to the Muzaffarnagar riots — the worst in recent history.
More than six months since the riots left nearly 60 persons dead and more than 40,000 homeless, all eyes will be on the BJP’s line-up for western UP – especially the seats around Muzaffarnagar – on Thursday.
Read: Did Muzaffarnagar benefit riot-tainted politicians?
The list will be keenly watched since the four local BJP legislators accused of fanning the riots — Kairana MLA Hukum Singh (Kairana LS seat), Bijnore MLA Bhartendu Singh (Bijnore), Sardhana MLA Sangeet Som (Muzaffarnagar) and Thana Bhawan MLA Suresh Rana (Saharanpur) — are seeking tickets. Except for Hukum Singh, the others were booked under the NSA, which was revoked after the court’s intervention. The BJP hinted at its polarisation strategy when it felicitated the three in November 2013 at Agra.
But it is not just the BJP. The BSP, to reap the post-riot polarisation benefits, has re-nominated its Muzaffarnagar MP Qadir Rana, another riot accused. Rana’s nephew, Shahnawaz, is contesting for SP the Bijnore seat, from where the RLD has fielded Jaya Prada.
Read: Riot-hit families to boycott LS elections in UP
Former Congress MP and another riot accused, Saeed-Uz-Jama, is busy holding press conferences in Muzaffarnagar to claim his innocence in the riots.
Political analyst MM Bahuguna says: “The riots have realigned old caste combinations and the Jat quota announced by the Congress — the area has an influential Jat population — will further polarise the fragmented polity.” Professor SK Dwivedi, former head of the political science department in Lucknow University, feels that such communal behaviour in caste-ridden politics makes the accused politicians “heroes” in the eyes of their communities.
Read: Mulayam tries to woo Muslims, blasts Modi
Strangely, such politicians haven’t noticed the message a Muslim in Kaval village is trying to spread by offering `25,000 for the construction of a ‘Bharat Mata’ temple.
Read: UP worst in riots record, Maharashtra next