Muslims are angry with Akhilesh who refused to visit Muzaffarnagar during the riots.
Muzaffarnagar: Determination and dilemma have rarely coexisted so closely as they do now in western Uttar Pradesh. The Muslims are determined to defeat the BJP but are also in a dilemma over their choice.
The split in the Samajwadi Party which has percolated down to the ground, reports of Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav being sidelined completely in his own party and now allegations of Mr Akhilesh Yadav being ‘anti-Muslim’, have added to the confusion among Muslims in the region.
Things could swing in favour of the alliance if Mr Mulayam Singh Yadav agrees to campaign because he enjoys more goodwill among Muslims than his son. However, that seems unlikely since the Samajwadi patriarch is still sulking over the alliance.
“Most of us do not wish to go with the BSP because of its past association with the BJP but we also do not want our votes to get divided because that will benefit the BJP. As the situation develops, we may have to resort to tactical voting and vote for any candidate who is strong enough to defeat the BJP”, says Karimullah, a local transporter in Budhana.
The Congress-SP alliance could have proved a formidable force in western UP but there is confusion due to multiplicity of candidates.
In the Saharanpur rural seat, Mr Akhilesh has given symbol to two candidates while the Congress has put up its own candidate. A similar situation prevails in Aligarh and some other constituencies.
Muslims are angry with Mr Akhilesh who refused to visit Muzaffarnagar during the riots. “It has been three and a half years since the riots but not a single accused has been jailed. Why should we trust the CM?” asks Asif Ansari, a graduate who studies in Delhi.
The campaign of the Congress as well as the SP is yet to pick up momentum and there is a sense of despondency among candidates.
Bansi Singh Pahadia, the sitting Congress MLA form Bulandshahr, however, explains that “Once top leaders of both the parties begin their campaign here, all confusion will be cleared up.”
The BSP will not be in the reckoning because Jatavs and Muslims will not vote together. It is the alliance that will gain in the region”.
In the 2012, of the 73 seats in western UP, SP had won 24, BSP 23, BJP 12, RLD 9 and Congress 5.
The contest on most seats this time is three-cornered with Congress-SP pitted against BJP and BSP but on some seats, it is turning into a four-cornered contest with the RLD emerging stronger than before. Then there are parties like the AIMIM which could cut into Muslim votes and help the BJP.
RLD spokesman Anil Dubey says that it almost after a decade that the party is contesting on its own and the results will leave the rivals shocked. “Mr Jayant Chaudhary has been campaigning since the past two years and the anti-farmer policies of the state and centre will erode the base of BJP and SP”, he says.
The BJP is also worried because the euphoria over surgical strikes has faded and the anger over demonetisation is yet to subside.
Sitting BJP MLA Suresh Rana , however, is confident. “We are going to sweep the polls in this region because parties that claim to be pro-Muslim have betrayed the community on all issues including development. The BJP alone stands to to its word and the policies of the Modi government are all inclusive”.