Tight triangular contest likely in western UP going to polls on Saturday
Lucknow: In the Muslim dominated western region of Uttar Pradesh, where polling will be held first on Saturday for the seventeenth state Assembly, Jat votes are likely to decide the fate of the Bhartiya Janta Party. Accounting for seventeen per cent of the population , Jats who are largely engaged in sugarcane cultivation in the area, had overwhelmingly supported the party, in addition to some Hindu castes, in the last Lok Sabha election, leading to its astounding victory.
The Muslims who have the highest percentage of voters (26) , higher than other regions (average being 19 ), are divided between the Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress-Samajwadi Party alliance and are unlikely to give bulk support to the party. Therefore, Jat and other Hindu votes will be a decider for the BJP.
In the previous assembly election the Hindu including Jat votes were split and, therefore, the party did not fare well, unlike the last Lok Sabha poll. Polarisation of Hindu votes including those of Jats can only change the scenario for the party. Being aware, the party has tried all the tricks in its bag to garner maximum Hindu support.
There are, however, two irritants. One, Jats had favoured the party in 2014 parliament election because of riots in Muzaffarnagar in which the caste had suffered badly. The Rashtriya Lok Dal which was the Jats' favourite in the past had failed to do much to assuage their feelings, leading to their disenchantment. The BJP had exploited the situation well too its advantage.
The same anti-Muslim sentiment is not prevalent in the area. Second, Jats demanding reservation ,denied by the Supreme Court, expected the BJP do something to revert it which it has failed to do.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi's recent moves including surgical strike and triple talaq issue may come to the party's rescue. The division of Muslim votes can reduce the damage. In any case the party can hope to improve its tally this year from the previous one in which it had bagged 12 seats.
The fight was neck and neck in the last assembly election between the BSP and the SP resulting in just one seat difference. The SP had captured 24 seats against 23 by the rival. The BSP has tried to make amends and taken an extra step to defeat the SP, offering 100 seats to the Muslim community.
To upset the party's plan the SP has allied with the Congress but the gamble may not pay as the SP is a divided house with supporters of senor party leader Shivpal Singh Yadav openly revolting against the young leadership. He himself has threatened to form his own party after the assembly election.
Its development plank and youth power, chief minister Akhilsh Yadav teaming with young Congress vice-president Rahul, may draw young voters to the alliance and benefit the 0-party, to the chagrin of the BSP supremo Mayawati.
All in all, the area is likely to face a tight triangular context and any prediction in such a scenario may go wrong.