With the recent communal riots in Muzaffarangar and Shamli districts likely to impact political loyalties,the Bahujan Samaj Party(BSP) has begun wooing the Muslims.
The party,which had earlier identified 13 candidates from the community for the Lok Sabha elections,has now dropped candidates of three more seats to accommodate Muslims in their place.
In western UP,where Muslims are in majority,the party has fielded candidates from the community in Muzaffarnagar,Kairana,Meerut,Amroha,Sambhal,Badaun,Pilibhit,Dhaurahra and Rampur.
The party has also picked Muslim candidates from Azamgarh,Domariyaganj,Kanpur,Sitapur and Fatehpur Lok Sabha seats.
The party replaced Kamlesh Shukla,who was chosen in place of sitting MP from Deoria seat Gorakh Prasad Jaiswal,by Niyaz Ahmed Hasan in October.
Hasan had unsuccessfully contested the 2012 Assembly elections from Pathardewa as an Independent.
The party has also replaced Satyaprakash Singh,whose name was earlier announced for Etah constituency,with Noor Mohammed. Most recently,the party sidelined R K Verma,who was announced to contest from Pratapgarh seat. A party coordinator said a Muslim leader will be fielded from the seat and his name will be announced within a week.
Party sources say in order to show the partys closeness to the community that the BSP has appointed Nisar Nabi,a Muslim party worker,as district president of Hamirpur district in Bundelkhand region in September.
Usually,the posts of district president of the BSP are occupied by Dalits or the Most Backward Castes. Nabi,who was earlier the president of Muslim Bhaichara Committee of Hamirpur assembly constituency,is the only Muslim district president of the party.
Sources said the party has also been showcasing its Muslim leaders,national general secretary Naseemuddin Siddiqui and Rajya Sabha member Munquad Ali,prominently.
Siddiqui,who is also the Leader of Opposition in the Legislative Council,chairs most of the party functions and review meetings in eastern and central UP. Ali plays a similar role in western UP where he is the in-charge.
Ali claimed the riots were the outcome of a conspiracy between the Samajwadi Party and BJP,as the former knew the main contest in western UP would be between BSP and BJP.
He said the BJP is strengthened in the state every time SP comes to power and Muslims know it.
The party leaders have been stressing that no riots took place during Mayawati government in UP and the BSP is the only party which can defeat BJP candidates in the Lok Sabha elections.
BSP chief Mayawati,who had earlier demanded imposition of Presidents rule in UP over the Muzaffarnagar riots,recently raised the issue of childrens deaths at relief camps in Muzaffarnagar and Shamli in Parliament.