BJP hopes hinge on division of Muslim votes

April 17, 2019 | News Of 9

Cong can play spoiler for 'mahagathbandhan' in Nagina

The dilemma of going with the BSP-SP-RLD grand alliance or the Congress is as palpable among Muslims in Nagina as in other western Uttar Pradesh seats, but they seem determined to solve the jigsaw puzzle to consolidate anti-BJP votes.

The BJP’s sitting MP from this SC seat in Uttar Pradesh, Yashwant Singh, may have faced some opposition internally when his ticket was announced, but has managed to rally support in this constituency dominated by Muslims and Dalits.

However, he would need a division in the votes of Muslims and Dalits to get across the line.

The BSP’s grand alliance candidate Girish Chandra has the numbers stacked in his favour but politics is not just a numbers game and Congress is pulling out all stops to be the party spoiler for him.

The Congress has fielded Omwati Devi, a multiple times MLA, former MP and ex-UP minister, from the constituency and is banking on attracting Muslims and Dalits that had been its traditional support base.

Congress general secretary in-charge of UP (West) Jyotiraditya Scindia addressed a public meeting here on Monday, urging voters to back Devi.

He strongly pitched Devi’s candidature to the people in the constituency and tried to struck an emotional chord with them.

After a Congress leader conducting the meeting reminded him of the connection the Scindia family historically has had with Nagina, Jyotiraditya Scindia recalled how a person named Rahim Khan from Nagina saved the life Mahadji Scindia when he was badly wounded in the third battle of Panipat.

“So, with Nagina I don’t have a political relationship, but I have family terms with it,” Scindia said amid loud cheers.

Scindia’s emotional pitch signified Congress’s intent to establish itself on the ground and if not win this time then at least have a support base ready for 2022 assembly polls.

Though the BJP is also leading an aggressive campaign, its candidate knows the numbers are stacked against him and only a division in votes can benefit him.

BSP candidate Chandra exuded confidence that the “mahagathbandhan” vote is firmly with his party.

“Votes will not be divided, people are with gathbandhan,” he told PTI.

Chandra also expressed a lack of confidence in EVMs and said his workers are telling voters to make sure the button they press corresponds with what comes on the slip in VVPAT machines.

A fear of division in minority and Dalit votes is still lurking, but Muslims seem to have decided that they will take a call on the eve of polling and go with the candidate that has the maximum chance if winning.

“Muslims are with gathbandhan. But some are getting attracted to Congress. A final call will be taken in favour of the candidate who looks strongest to win. Muslims will solve the jigsaw puzzle in front of them, an influential member of the Muslim community said on condition of anonymity.

The dilemma, though, is there as Congress is at least an option, unlike previous years,” he said.

In 2014 election, BJP’s Yashwant Singh had defeated his nearest rival Yashvir Singh of SP by over 90,000 votes. BSP’s Girish Chandra had finished third.

The polling in Nagina will be held on April 18 in the second phase of Lok Sabha elections. The results will be declared on May 23.

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