Saturday, April 19, 2014

Record Polling in UP's Muslim Areas may Spell Trouble for BJP


As 11 Lok Sabha constituencies in Uttar Pradesh went to the polls registering a 63 percent turnout on Thursday, record voting in the Muslim-dominated Rohailkhand region could spell doom for the BJP’s dream of winning maximum seats.

Polling in the second phase saw a drop by three percent from the first phase but was high when compared to the 2009 turnout. The record polling was, however, marred by the self-immolation of a youth whose name was not in the voters’ list, and a few stray incidents of violence. If the Hindu-Muslim divide sparked off by the 2013 riots could explain the high turnout in western parts of the state, Rohailkhand didn’t have any such tense atmosphere despite the attempts by BJP leader Amit Shah and SP leader Mohammad Azam Khan to whip up communal sentiments. The Election Commission has barred both leaders from campaigning in the state.

In the 2009 elections, the SP was leading in the region with four seats. The Congress got three seats while the BSP got two seats. The RLD and BJP got one seat each.

The BJP is worried that Muslim votes might be polarised in favour of one party -- the SP, Congress or the BSP.

Rohailkhand is the region where the SP had won maximum seats in the 2012 Assembly elections and if it is able to retain the support of the Muslims who feel disenchanted with the party since the Muzaffarnagar communal riots, the Congress will not be able to hold its three seats and the BSP will also not be well placed.

Rohailkhand witnessed a multi-cornered fight among the BJP, Congress, SP, BSP and the RLD, unlike in the first phase of polls where the main fight was among the BJP, RLD and the BSP  while the SP didn’t have a solid support base here. And Maneka Gandhi (Pilibhit), SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadavs’ brother Dharmendra Yadav (Badaun) are among those whose fate was sealed in the second phase.

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