New Delhi, Jan 11 : The opposition in Uttar Pradesh is seeking to attract minority votes into their fold in the February-March Assembly elections and among the SP, the BSP, the Congress, and the AIMIM, it is the BSP which is likely to take the lead by fielding more Muslims.
The BSP is said to have finalised its candidates on the majority of seats and they have been made in charge of the respective Assembly segments. The name of the candidates will be released with the notification of the first phase polling by the Election Commission on January 14, but the probable candidates in the list have been unofficially intimated. There are understood to be a large number of Muslims in the last and the SP’s apprehension is that the BSP’s move could help the BJP as it will lead to a division of votes in the elections.
In 2007, the Muslim community voted largely for the BSP, and for the SP in 2012, but in 2017, their votes got divided between the SP-Congress combine and the BSP, helping the BJP.
The war for Muslims votes is not only limited to the SP, the BSP, and the Congress, but AIMIM has also targeted the community and has been very active in the state.
AIMIM President Asaduddin Owaisi, in his public meetings, says that Muslims now want their share in the power setup. “Every community has some share in power but Muslims have been deprived and now face discrimination,” he said.
Independent analyst Rahul Varma says: “The SP has been getting a majority of the votes from the Muslims in UP. The 2022 Assembly election is likely to become bipolar, ie, the main competition will be limited to BJP-led and SP-led alliances with other players including the BSP being reduced to the margins. It won’t be surprising if the SP gets more than 75 per cent of Muslim votes. In my view, both AIMIM and the Peace Party will have a marginal presence among Muslims.”
The Muslims are the second-largest religious bloc and rough estimates are that their population is 20 per cent but in the 2017 elections, they were divided and the BJP, riding on Hindutva consolidation backed by social engineering, swept the polls.
Despite their huge population, only 23 Muslim MLAs were elected in 2017 while the highest number was in 2002 at 64.