UP Muslims, backwards look up to AAP, but unsure of its success

The disparate voices from the ground suggest that AAP will affect alignments in surprising ways in the coming polls.

india Updated: Jan 25, 2014 01:17 IST
Prashant Jha
Prashant Jha
Hindustan Times
UP Muslims,AAP,Uttar Pradesh

Byaspur, Fatehpur, and Nathopur are your typical eastern Uttar Pradesh villages about half an hour drive from Varanasi towards Mughalsarai. But far from Delhi, as they may be, villagers here have not only heard of the “Dilli-wallah” Kejriwal, they are also seriously considering him as the prime minister candidate.

“This time, it is Aam Aadmi Party (AAP). Arvind Kejriwal is doing the right thing. Other CMs should learn from him,” said Ishtiaq Ahmed of Muslim-dominated Nathopur in Chandauli district.

Pointing to the village road, Ahmed added, “Rs 800,000 was sanctioned to construct this a year ago. But no work has got done. The SP government is useless.”

Some distance away, in the OBC-dominated Fatehpur, paan-shop owner Om Prakash Yadav is an SP supporter. “But for the centre, I will vote for AAP,” Yadav made clear. Asked if he was happy with what AAP was doing in Delhi? “Even a gram pradhan cannot do anything in 10 days. But which other CM sleeps on the road? Kejriwal offers us hope,” said Yadav.

Dalit-dominated Byaspur remains a stronghold of Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP). Chavinath Prasad, 75, said he would vote for Mayawati.

In Mughalsarai, a key district township, Jagjivan Ram, a Dalit, is distributing AAP membership forms in front of Subash Park. Attracted by “Kejriwal’s honesty”, this retired sub-inspector of UP police joined AAP in early January.

He claimed at least 1,000 people joined AAP every day in Mughalsarai. Sunil Kumar Patel, a college student who came to register, said 24 of his batchmates had already joined. “My family votes for the BJP but I like Kejriwal,” said Patel, a Kurmi by caste.

Upper-caste professionals are curious about AAP, but they don’t share the same enthusiasm, having made up their minds to vote for the BJP. “AAP is an illusion. It cannot break the caste politics of UP,” said a lawyer at the Allahabad High Court.

Despite being enthused by AAP, even supporters are not confident of AAP’s ‘winability’ and this may serve as a deterrent for them at the booth. Danish Ali, an entrepreneur of Allahabad, said, “Muslims are looking to AAP with hope, and if an AAP candidate is winning, they will back him. But if he is not then they will explore other options.”

The disparate voices from the ground suggest that AAP will affect alignments in surprising ways in the coming polls.

First Published: Jan 25, 2014 01:15 IST