Muslims may spell trouble for BJP in Uttarakhand election
The absence of a 2014-like wave is giving the BJP jitters in poll-bound Uttarakhand, especially in segments where Muslims are sizeable in number.
Uttarakhand, which goes to vote early next year, has a 14% Muslim population. This goes up to between 15 and over 50% in 23 out of the 70 assembly constituencies that are spread across Haridwar (10 segments), Udhamsingh Nagar (8), Dehradun (3) and Nainital (2) districts.
The BJP had won 10 of these 23 seats in 2012 assembly polls while Congress and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) had shared the rest, 10 and 3.
The BJP also did exceptionally well in these areas in the 2014 Lok Sabha polls winning 19 seats while the Congress could get just 4.
“Given the wave in favour of (Narendra) Modi for Prime Ministership, 2014 outcome was an exception,” a BJP general secretary said. “We neither have such a face nor a wave this time.”
The party is running without a chief ministerial face, largely depending on the ‘achievements’ of the Modi government at the Centre.
It has four former chief ministers on its side and an equal number of leaders nursing ambitions for the top post, which may be counterproductive, according to the strategists.
They fear the current situation may not unite all non-Muslim population, like it did in 2014, but will prompt the minority community to consolidate against the BJP.
Uttarakhand has always chosen its ruler with a wafer thin margin. “Every vote counts. We have taken note of the minority factor and our strategy will be formulated accordingly,” another BJP leader involved in Uttarakhand affairs told HT.
Uttarakhand also has 18% Scheduled Caste population, which is equally strong in these 23 seats. The three seats that Mayawati’s BSP won in the last assembly polls are from these areas. A Dalit-Muslim combination helped her gain foothold in the hill state.
On seats that the BJP sees a potential of winning, it will field SC candidates of its own. In the rest, it will tactically support strong candidates to cut maximum votes that they can.