Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav have all reasons to be upset with the Uttar Pradesh poll results. Not only their parties failed to return to power, the BJP secured massive victories in Muslim dominated areas – where SP and BSP parties used to enjoy lead in previous polls. From all six constituencies of riot-hit Muzaffarnagar to Deoband in Saharanpur, Bareilly, Bijnor and Moradabad where Muslims dominate the demography, the BJP swept the polls. As the BJP won 325 of the 403 seats, Mayawati alleged tampering of EVMs by the BJP, saying even the ‘Muslims votes have gone to the saffron party which is unacceptable.’
Well, how true is Mayawati’s allegation will be probed by the Election Commission. But if Muslims have cast their vote in favour of BJP, it is a big achievement for Narendra Modi and Amit Shah who are accused of marginalising the minorities. And the result in this region seems to be a big blow to the appeasement politics of the ruling SP and the BSP.
After the 2013 communal riots in Muzaffarnagar that saw the killing of over 60 people, there was a massive polarisation between the two communities. And in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, Hindus voted for the BJP. The Muslims on the other hand were pained by the inaction of the Akhilesh Yadav government. The young chief minister was strongly condemned by the Muslim community for ignoring their plight. The images of Akhilesh with Bollywood stars in Safai Mahotsav when Muzaffarnagar was buring seems to have done maximum damage to the SP. And that gave Mayawati’s BSP, whose social engineering of bringing together Brahim and Dalit voters in 2007 polls saw her party storming to power, an opportunity to get Muslim voters in combination with Dalits on her side. But with Akhilesh emerging as the young face of development in UP, the Muslims were not very sure of going with Behenji.
Mulayam Singh too had rebuked Akhilesh for ditching the party’s traditional Muslim voters. Seeing Muslims drifting away, Akhilesh had announced huge compensation package for the riot victims. Many families whose house were burnt and destroyed in the riots received Rs 5 lakh compensation and proper houses. Burhana in Muzaffarnagar which was worst affected in the 2014 riots, has many sad stories of the massacre. The ground report before elections suggested a huge support for Akhilsh and his poll candidate Pramod Malik. But the turnout in rallies didn’t convert into votes as BJP’s Umesh Malik defeated Tyagi by over 13,000 votes. It can also be attribute to the infighting within the SP.
Like Burhana, the BJP swept Khatauli, Meerpur, Purqazi and Charatwal dethroning the sitting MLAs from SP and BSPs. In Muzaffarnagar city, sitting MLA Kapil Dev Agarwal retained his seats beating his nearest Jat rival Gaurav Swarup of Samajwadi Party. In the nearest Moradabad, Bijnor, Saharanpur and bareeilly too, the saffron party performed exceptionally well. One of the factors for BJP’s win in western Uttar Pradesh can be the farmers’ support for demonetisation. The farmers in Muzaffarnagar constitute of Muslims and Jats. With demonetisation aiming to associate farmers with the banking system and several schemes announced by the Modi government in Union budget, the confusion of the Muslim farmers to chose between SP and BSP may have landed them to the BJP’s doorstep.
In eastern UP too, BJP has found strong support from Muslim community. There was huge turnout of Muslims in Modi’s rally in Varanasi. In Mirzapur and Varanasi, Muslims constitute the strong weaver force of the handloom sector. Modi’s recent flagship programmes like Gurur-Shishya Parampara offering paid training to unemployed Muslims is likely to have helped the party win minorities’ support in the state election.
The BJP did not give ticket to a single Muslim candidate in Uttar Pradesh. Reacting to the party’s solid show in Muslim pockets, Amit Shah said that the voters in UP have risen above Hindu- Muslim division and have voted for development. But since now the BJP will be in power in UP, what action will the party take against those sending Muslims to Pakistan will be interesting to see.