Azamgarh Muslims keep SP hopeful

Nizamuddin,106, at the polling station.Narendra Modi had felicitated him at a Varanasi rally. Nizamuddin,106, at the polling station.Narendra Modi had felicitated him at a Varanasi rally.

In Azamgarh Lok Sabha constituency where voters were divided on communal lines following a high-decibel BJP campaign, and where Samajwadi Party leaders were concerned over eroding Muslim support, SP chief Mulayam Singh Yadav seems to have got the major chunk of Muslim support, going by what voters said outside polling booths on Monday.

BSP’s Shah Alam alias Guddu Jamali, and Rashtriya Ulema Council chief Aamir Rashadi Madani, apparently could not dent Muslim support for Mulayam much, according to SP leaders. Rashadi’s efforts to wean away votes from the SP candidate seemed to have failed.

While Mulayam is expected to get a major share of Muslim votes, Jamali is believed to have got a good number of Muslim votes in several polling stations.

The Muslim voter turnout was impressive. “We all voted Samajwadi Party for Mulayam Singh Yadav. Still there is a section in town that went with BSP,” a cloth merchant at Mubarakpur town said. Muslim-dominated Mubarakpur has over 15,000 voters.

Javed, a weaver, said Rashadi supporters had gone to seek votes but he appears to have not created any dent. An erosion of Muslim support was one of the main worries of SP and the party had focused attention on the community.

SP rivals including BSP and BJP leaders alleged poll rigging attempts and SP workers beating their supporters.

“My chief election agent Anwar Ahmed was confronted at Erapatty where SP workers indulged in bogus voting. His pass was snatched away by police and thrown outside,” the BSP candidate alleged.

“My supporters were beaten up by SP goons and local police sided with them. Left with no choice I asked them to run away,” Jamali claimed.

“Our Mandal Adhyaksh Ghanshayam Rai was assaulted by SP workers at Muzaffarpur village booth. He was injured. I lodged an FIR at Kandharpur police station,” Sahjanand Rai, BJP’s Azamgarh unit president said. He alleged that BJP workers thwarted SP attempts to capture several booths.

At Shibli National College polling station, Muslim women voted in large numbers. “We are voting for development. You better know who can develop our area,” Shakira Fatima, a voter stated. Such was enthusiasm among Muslim women that they outnumbered men at the polling station.

At Dhakwa, 106-year-old Nizamuddin, an associate of Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose, voted along with family members. Nizamuddin was recently felicitated by Narendra Modi in Varanasi where he touched the feet of Nizamuddin.