It is more the merrier for the BJP as whenever the saffron party is challenged by a number of Muslim rivals, a split in votes on communal lines helps turn the tide for its candidates in UP. Going by the past record, BJP was the major beneficiary of division of minority votes and polarisation during polls.
While BSP has given ticket to 99 Muslims, SP-Congress are claiming to be the real “sympathiser” of the community to seek their votes. Besides, AIMIM has also fielded its candidates at a few seats.
In 2012 polls, there were at least 26 seats where Muslim candiates lost due to division of votes due to fight between them. Among these seats, there were many where the margin of victory was very thin.
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In Nakud seat of Sahranpur, Dharm Singh Saini of BJP emerged victorious due to division of Muslim votes between Imran Masood of Congress and Firoz Aftab of Samajwadi Party. As Firoz secured over 30,000 votes, Imran lost by about 4,000 votes to Saini.
There was an interesting contest on Thana Bhawan seat won by BJP’s Suresh Rana, infamous for his alleged role in Muzaffarnagar riots. He scraped through by 265 votes only, while RLD candidate Ashraf Ali Khan and BSP’s Abdul Waris secured 53,000 and 50,000 votes respectively.
Former BJP state president Lakshmikant Bajpai won Meerut seat due to split in votes among Muslim candidates.
Same was the case in Saharanpur City (BJP), Gangoh (Cong), Kairana (BJP), Bijnor (BJP), Noorpur (BJP), Asmoli (SP), Meerut South (BJP), Sikandaraband (BJP), Agra South (BJP) and Firozabad (BJP) seats. This time too, division of Muslims votes might help BJP turn the tide in its favour in the high stakes UP polls.
At Swar seat, there is interesting contest between Nawab Kazim Ali, the sitting Congress MLA who recently joined BSP, and SP leader Azam Khan’s son Abdullah Azam.
Both known for their political rivalry are leaving nothing to chance to ensure victory. BJP has given ticket to Lakshmi Saini on this seat.
At Meerut South, there is a tough fight on cards with BSP candidate Haji Yakoob Kuraishi taking on SP-Congress alliance candidate Azad Saifi and both are trying to woo minority community to ensure their success. BJP candidate Somendra Tomar is also eyeing the seat and is banking on the division of Muslim votes for his victory.
At Aligarh City seat, polarisation seems to be the key for victory of BJP candidate Sanjeev Raja, having image of a Hinduwadi leader. On this seat, BSP has fielded Arif Abbasi while SP has given ticket to sitting MLA Zafar Alam.
Another seat, Agra South, has three Muslim candidates — Zulfikar Ali Bhutto is contesting on BSP ticket, Congress has given ticket to Nazir Ahmad and Idrish is contesting as AIMIM candidate.
BJP has given ticket to Yogendra Upadhyay, who seems confident of victory as division of minority votes appears palpable.
In Firozabad, BJP has fielded sitting MLA Manish Asija, who will be fighting BSP’s Khalid Nasir, SP’s Azim Bhai and AIMIM’s Aithasham to retain his seat.
Similar is the situation in Loni seat in Ghaziabad, where BSP’s sitting MLA Zakir Ali has locked horns with Rashid Malik (SP), while RLD has given ticket to Madan Bhaiya. BJP has fielded Nand Kishore Gurjar.
In seats like Badaun, Kanpur Cant, Khalilabad, Lucknow (West) situation is same with Muslim candidates challenging each other giving advantage to rival political parties.