BJP’s Advantage in UP Elections Due to Split Muslim Votes

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BJP’s Advantage in UP Elections Due to Split Muslim Votes

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LUCKNOW: With the 18th Lok Sabha election campaign in full swing, attention turns to the Muslim vote in Uttar Pradesh. Being the most populous province in India with a significant Muslim population, Uttar Pradesh holds sway over the outcome of parliamentary elections. Muslims influence nearly all 80 parliamentary seats in the state, with over two dozen seats being pivotal.

Historically, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has gained from a division among Muslim voters. In the 1980 Lok Sabha election, eighteen Muslim candidates were elected from Uttar Pradesh. However, in the 2014 Lok Sabha election, not a single Muslim candidate was elected due to the fragmentation of their votes among various parties.

Comprising 19% of Uttar Pradesh’s population, Muslims influence 20–50% of the state’s population, potentially determining the outcome of about 24 Lok Sabha seats.

While the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance hopes to consolidate Muslim support in constituencies with a majority of Muslims, the ruling BJP seeks to sway Muslim voters through its “pasmnada” (loyalty) pitch. However, the BJP’s past targeting of Muslims may limit its success in this endeavor.

As elections near, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) are poised to split the Muslim vote. The BSP has strategically fielded five unofficially announced Muslim candidates, including Aqil Ahmed Patta from Kannauj and Irfan Saifi from Moradabad.

Additionally, the AIMIM plans to field candidates in approximately twenty seats with a significant Muslim majority. While their primary goal may not be to win seats directly, their actions could inadvertently benefit the BJP-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

The BJP’s attempts to sway Muslim voters with promises of welfare schemes and the triple talaq ban face skepticism. Muslims may not fall into the BJP’s trap, but divisions among them could occur in the name of “Biradariwad” (brotherhood), as seen in past elections.

The 2014 general election serves as a lesson for Muslims in the state, highlighting the consequences of failing to unite and send representatives to Parliament.