The BJP is weighing the pros and cons of a weakened SP. While UP’s BJP president Keshav Prasad Maurya said Sunday the rift means Yadavs are “ready for a BJP government”, party sources conceded the BSP could gain the Muslim vote, which accounts for 18 per cent of UP.”
“It would be too early to talk about loss or gain for the BJP at this stage,” said former BJP state president Laxmikant Bajpai, MLA from Meerut in western UP, a region the BJP is banking on.
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Dharmpal Singh, MLA from Aonla in Bareilly, predicted Muslims would rather go with the Congress than the BSP. “It is not a question of BJP’s loss or gain from the SP’s split… Muslims are always looking towards power. I think they will now vote for the Congress which is looking stronger than the BSP after Rahul Gandhi’s khat sabha,” he said.
Swatantra Dev Singh Patel, BJP state general secretary, said what is happening is not right because the Opposition
should also be strong. “The people of UP have made up their mind to go with BJP… Yadavs are nationalists and they
will support the BJP as they did during Lok Sabha elections,” he said.
Some BJP leaders, however, are hoping for a split among Muslims. “There are many Muslim leaders of stature in the
SP who would, if the party splits, put up their own candidates and they have a captive vote that would stay with them. Thus the Muslim vote would get split and it would naturally benefit BJP,” said a party leader.
The BSP, on the other hand, has sensed gains among Muslims. BSP sources agreed the BJP may get more support from Yadavs, the support of Muslims to the BSP will be more telling. The BSP has finalised the names of about 90 Muslim candidates for 2017.
BSP state president Ram Achal Rajbhar said, “The Muslim community is already leaning towards the BSP because of so many communal riots during SP rule and the BSP’s record of strict administration. Now this sequence of events(in SP) means we will get even stronger Muslim support,” he said.
Another BSP leader said the party is also hopeful of getting support from a section of Yadavs who are “concerned
about law and order and the state’s development.”. “Though the BJP will get maximum from whatever Yadav votes move away from the SP, we will still get at least 10 per cent of that,” the leader said. The BSP has has fielded over a
dozen Yadav candidates.
About the SP feud, BJP national general secretary Arun Singh said, “This is a fight for supremacy. It is extremely unfortunate the treatment meted out to the chief minister of the largest state of the country, such unparliamentary language to be used publicly against him.”