By Pradeep Kapoor
LUCKNOW: BJP is facing big challenge from Samajwadi Party and RLD combine in second phase of UP Assembly elections in Western UP due to domination of Muslim population in this region. Already on a slippery wicket witnessed in first phase in jatland of Western UP due to Muslim joining hands with jat community, BJP leadership is quite unnerved in second phase constituencies.
During second phase polling will take place on February 14 in 55 constituencies in nine districts of Saharanpur, Bijnore, Amroha, Moradabad, Rampur, Sambhal, Bareilly, Badaun, and Shahjehanpur. It would be worth mentioning here that out of total 55 constituencies in second phase 38 were won by BJP in 2017 polls while Samajwadi Party got 17 and Congress two seats.
Significantly the number of Muslim votes exceed 40 percent in Rampur, Moradabad, Bijnore and Amroha districts. In Bareilly it’s share is 34.54 per cent. Powerful jat community too has good presence in districts like Saharanpur, Amroha and Moradabad giving advantage to Rashtriya Lok Dal headed by jat leader Jayant Choudhry grandson of former Prime Minister Choudhury. Charan Singh.
During last two elections, BJP got benefit of polarisation of jats in its favour due to Mujaffarnagar riots in 2013 during regime of Akhilesh Yadav. But farmers agitation brought jats and Muslims on one platform which was witnessed during last few months and it was noticed during first phase of polling as well when voters were quite vocal about their preference and issues.
It may be noted senior BJP leaders like Union Home Minister Amit Shah who launched his campaign from Kairana talked about migration and riots but miserably failed to polarise the voters. Realising the problems faced in first phase, BJP brought star campaigner PM Narendra Modi himself who addressed impressive election meetings at Saharanpur and Kasganj and virtual meetings at Hathras, Firozabad, Etah and Farukhabad.
PM Narendra Modi in his election meetings accused Samajwadi Party of banking on criminals and said that BJP government was necessary in UP to keep state riot-free. Modi also reminded communal riots Muzaffarnagar in 2013 and in Saharanpur in 2014 and also talked about improvement in law and order situation during regime of Yogi Adityanath. He also reminded people about various schemes of central government and state government sending money to help the farmers.
On the other hand during their election campaign meetings, Samaajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav and Alliance partner RLD chief Jayant Choudhry exuded confidence and claimed that the first phase polling made it clear their alliance would form the government defeating BJP in UP.
Akhilesh Yadav blamed BJP for giving people dikkat, qillat and zillat ( problems, scarcity and disgrace) and did harm to amity in the society. Akhilesh Yadav and Jayant Choudhry drawing huge crowd in their meetings, attacked BJP on covid crisis and farm laws.
Rampur district with over 50 per cent muslim population is very important for Samajwadi Party as well as ruling BJP. Prominent SP leader and former minister who set up university in the area, Mohd Azam khan is in jail facing soon after the installation of Yogi government in the state. His son Abdullah is also facing 50 FIRs and was recently released on bail. Both father and son are contesting assembly polls.
Samajwadi Party President Akhilesh Yadav during his election meeting in Rampur attacking BJP said Azam Khan was targetted to settle a political score. He further said the person who was instrumental in setting up university was in jail and the one who was responsible killing farmers was out of jail. Akhilesh was talking about Asheesh Mishra, son of Union Minister Teni Mishra charged in killing of farmers in Lakhimpur Kheri recently released. On the other hand BJP has also made the defeat of Azam Khan and his son prestige issue for the party.
Since UP is witnessing direct election between BJP and SP alliance, Congress and BSP have been reduced to side players and they may influence in those constituencies having powerful candidates. (IPA Service)