It is more the merrier for the BJP as whenever the saffron party is challenged by a number of Muslim rivals, a split in votes on communal lines helps turn the tide for its candidates in UP. Going by the past record, BJP was the major beneficiary of division of minority votes and polarisation during polls. While BSP has given ticket to 99 Muslims, SP-Congress are claiming to be the real “sympathiser” of the community to seek their votes. Besides, AIMIM has also fielded its candidates at a few seats.
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In 2012 polls, there were at least 26 seats where Muslim candiates lost due to division of votes due to fight between them. Among these seats, there were many where the margin of victory was very thin. In Nakud seat of Sahranpur, Dharm Singh Saini of BJP emerged victorious due to division of Muslim votes between Imran Masood of Congress and Firoz Aftab of Samajwadi Party.
As Firoz secured over 30,000 votes, Imran lost by about 4,000 votes to Saini. There was an interesting contest on Thana Bhawan seat won by BJP’s Suresh Rana, infamous for his alleged role in Muzaffarnagar riots. He scraped through by 265 votes only, while RLD candidate Ashraf Ali Khan and BSP’s Abdul Waris secured 53,000 and 50,000 votes respectively.
Former BJP state president Lakshmikant Bajpai won Meerut seat due to split in votes among Muslim candidates. Same was the case in Saharanpur City (BJP), Gangoh (Cong), Kairana (BJP), Bijnor (BJP), Noorpur (BJP), Asmoli (SP), Meerut South (BJP), Sikandaraband (BJP), Agra South (BJP) and Firozabad (BJP) seats.