The BJP led by PM Narendra Modi pulled all stops to ensure BJP sweeps in the Prime Minister’s parliamentary constituency Varanasi. As UP entered the last phase of election, PM Modi held two roadshows in Varanasi which seemingly was a measure to show the BJP’s strength in Uttar Pradesh.
What surprised many was that Muslims turned out in huge numbers for PM Modi ’s roadshows.
When the PM’s SUV passed through the Muslim dominated area of Madanpur, PM Modi stopped to accept Shawls and flowers that were offered to him. However, the likes of Times of India, India Today and DNA were quick to downplay this incident and claimed that a high Muslim turnout in Varanasi doesn’t necessarily mean Muslims will vote for the BJP because the Muslims this time around are solidly backing the SP-Congress alliance.
It is true that due to the presence of polarising figures like Yogi Adityanath, Sakshi Maharaj etc and BJP’s decision to give no tickets to Muslims will certainly dent the meek prospect of BJP attracting a chunk of Muslim voters in Uttar Pradesh. The assumption of Muslims never voting for the BJP made by the leading media groups falls flat when one analyses the latest elections results. The 2014 LS polls sprang a lot of surprises but the biggest surprise was that a large section of Muslims voted for the BJP. States like Assam, Maharashtra, UP and Delhi with sizeable chunk of Muslim electorate voted overwhelmingly for the BJP. The CSDS has identified 87 Lok Sabha seats having considerable Muslim population throughout the country. Out of the 87 seats the BJP triumphed in 45 seats and in Uttar Pradesh alone the party won all but one of the 27 seats with sizeable Muslim electorate. Assam which also has a sizeable Muslim electorate BJP stormed to power at the expense of Congress winning 86/126 seats and winning in 15 out of the 49 Muslim majority seats. This was attributed to the fact that the BJP was successful in consolidation of Hindu votes and the fact that Muslims don’t vote en bloc.
With Rural Unemployment coming down drastically since PM Modi assumed office and by picking up sensitive issues like Triple Talaq (which is draconian in every sense) combined with the fact that the trio of BSP-SP-INC have reduced them to nothing but an election issue, the BJP perhaps might have struck a chord with few sections of the Muslim population.
Dismissing the huge turnout of Muslims in PM Modi’s roadshows will only prove to be foolhardy which will have the likes of Akhilesh Yadav, Mayawati and Mamata Banerjee worried. The recently concluded BMC elections sprang a major surprise when two Muslim candidates contesting on a Shiv Sena ticket won in their respective wards defeating the so called secular forces like INC, NCP and AIMIM. Perhaps Muslims are now not shy as before to support “communal forces” like the BJP and Shiv Sena.
Uttar Pradesh might be witnessing a Donald Trump like wave where the silent majority reduced all the opinion polls to a pathetic joke. In UP, the silent ‘minority’ would be the Muslims who might be unwilling to be vocal in their support of the BJP fearing a backlash from Imams and certain sections of the community who have no qualms in issuing a fatwa against PM Modi. It would be extremely difficult for the BJP to repeat its Lok Sabha performance in Uttar Pradesh, but even if BJP wins in half of the Muslim dominated seats as compared to 2014, there is little doubt that the BJP would then win with a thumping majority in Uttar Pradesh.
If the BJP succeeds in converting the huge Muslim turnout into votes, India might be seeing a humongous demographic change which will completely alter the future of Indian politics from Majority vs Minority and caste based politics to a comparison of development track record which is what the country needs right now.