The Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections are around the corner. And with approaching elections, there is one part of the country’s most populous state that has shot into the limelight- West Uttar Pradesh.
West UP is considered to be a relatively more prosperous part of the state, and just as the road to Delhi goes through Lucknow, it is being said the road to Lucknow goes through Western UP. The media studios in Noida have come up with a new social engineering concept. They claim that Muslim-Jat unity will push the BJP to the margins in the region. So, let us see if this works.
Opinion polls have been constantly predicting a BJP victory in the state of Uttar Pradesh. But when it comes to western UP, some sections of the media are predicting a neck-to-neck battle between the BJP and SP. Their thesis says that the two dominant communities in the region- the Jats and the Muslims are likely to vote against the BJP in the aftermath of the recent farm agitation that ended in December last year.
The Samajwadi Party (SP) and Jayant Chaudhary-led Rashtriya Lok Dal, which has a good base amongst the Jat voters have allied. And the mainstream media narrative claims that this could spoil BJP’s chances in West UP. But do the Jat-Muslim unity claims work?
Ticket distribution exposes fissures in Jat-Muslim unity
With all the media reports pushing through the idea of Jat-Muslim unity to defeat the BJP in West UP, you might feel that there is some element of truth in the opinion. But as per ET, ticket distribution has exposed cracks in Jat-Muslim unity.
The RLD has reportedly fielded Ghulam Mohammed, an SP leader, on the RLD symbol from the Siwalkhas assembly seat. However, there is anger brewing in the Jat community over the announcement of Mohammed as the RLD candidate. According to the ET report, RLD supporters wanted a Jat candidate from the assembly constituency.
ET quoted Dharmendra Chaudhary from Dabathwa village as saying, “It will have an impact for sure as the elders are angry because the seat didn’t come to the RLD.” Interestingly, Dabathwa was the place where SP chief Akhilesh Yadav and RLD chief Jayant Chaudhary had their first joint rally in West UP.
Sunil Kumar, a shopkeeper from Khanpur village near Siwalkhas, toldET, “Our village was mostly with RLD. But since there is a Muslim candidate, we are now turning to the BJP.” Kumar added, “You go to any village near the Siwalkhas market, and no one will vote for the RLD now.”
Even the UP Jat Mahasabha has said that if a Jat is not made a candidate on Siwalkhas, it will appeal to people not to vote for the SP-RLD alliance. In Baghpat too, a similar situation has emerged. RLD has fielded Ahmed Hameed, son of former UP Minister Kaukab Hameed.
He had contested the last election from the same constituency on a BSP seat and had lost by 30,000 votes. Now, there is said to be resentment in the Jat community over the announcement of Hameed who had last the last election by a big margin.
Trust deficit on both sides
And it isn’t as if the trust deficit is visible only in cases where the RLD didn’t field a Jat candidate. In the six Assembly seats in Muzaffarnagar, the alliance hasn’t fielded a Muslim candidate. This effectively brings into doubt the election prospects of many politicians like Kadir Rana, an SP leader who had recently joined the party in the hope of getting a poll ticket.
Jamil Chaudhary of Budhana has been quoted by ET as saying that Muslim votes would go to BSP, instead of the alliance. He told ET, “Had they given ticket to at least one Muslim candidate, things would have been different.”
The idea of Jat-Muslim unity limited to Noida media studios
The ET report exposes how the idea of Jat-Muslim unity hasn’t created the kind of endgame that many armchair analysts had predicted for the BJP in West UP. But the fact remains that apart from one or two exaggerated events, there is nothing to show that some sort of an inter-community alliance with the sole aim of defeating the BJP has taken shape.
The Quint reported that they travelled to villages of Muzaffarnagar where the 2013 reports had spread to, and witnessed tremendous support for the BJP. The party has many mass leaders like Sangeet Som and Suresh Rana in west UP, which is why the party seems to have maintained its popularity in this part of the state where it had won 88 out of 110 seats in the 2017 polls.