Thana Bhawan (Shamli)/Sardhana (Meerut): With the pro-Hindutva leaders such as Suresh Rana and Sangeet Som leading the campaign in western Uttar Pradesh raising the issues such as Hindu migration, love jihad and construction of Ram temple in Ayodhya, the saffron party is expecting a consolidation of Hindu votes. It’s the repeat of the BJP’s old strategy, which had helped it win Kairana, Saharanpur Nagar, Thana Bhawan, Bijnor and Noorpur in 2012 in the face of division of votes between two Muslim candidates.
Controversial BJP MLA Suresh Rana – who is an accused of the 2013 riots in Muzaffarnagar and contesting from Shamli’s Thana Bhawan constituency – was recently booked by the Uttar Pradesh Police on charges of inciting hatred after he said that curfew will be imposed in Kairana, Deoband and Moradabad if he is elected again in assembly polls this year.
A CD allegedly containing clippings of Muzaffarnagar riots from the campaign vehicle of Sangeet Som, another hatemonger within the saffron party who represents Meerut’s Sardhana constituency in UP assembly, at Fareedpur village in constituency. Kairana BJP MP Hukum Singh had flagged the alleged exodus narrative last June, but it was rejected by people. The issue has even found mention in the BJP’s ‘Sankalp Patra’ (manifesto).
Interestingly, his own nephew Anil Chauhan, who is contesting the assembly polls from Kairana on Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) ticket, too has now debunked Singh’s migration theory, claiming that his uncle raised it only to secure a seat for his daughter Mriganka who is fighting as BJP candidate.
“BJP is clear that it will not get support among Muslims and knows that Hindus will finally come behind them. Though Muzaffarnagar has long been done but migration is a recent issue and a reality highlighted by his party.
“Its concern is to check any division in Hindu votes on seats where nomainstream party has fielded Muslims or there is strong Hindu candidate against a BJP nominee,” said an insider of the saffron party.
There are as many as 110 seats where both BJP and the SP-Congress alliance have fielded a Hindu candidate. The party hopes for polarisation of Hindus in reaction to the possible consolidation of Muslims behind the Samajwadi party (SP)-Congress alliance. But the strategy of the right-wing party does not appear to be working out. All its three candidates (Mriganka from Kairana, Suresh Rana from Thana Bhawanand, Sangeet Som from Sardhana) are struggling to win the polls.
“The problem with the BJP is that it does not have an issue and, therefore, they play the communal card. But people are not going to buy their theories. Both the communities suffered huge losses post Muzaffarnagar communal violence. The BJP is trying hard to create another disturbance by raising controversial issues such as Kairana exodus one after another but people debunk it. Because of its faulty policies and anti-people decisions in the Centre, the party has lost its ground,” a man from Jat community in Thana Bhawan constituency told Janta Ka Reporter refusing to be named.
Chaudhary Ranveer Singh fron Rajhad village echoes the same sentiment. “The resentment among the Jat community over the denial of their demand for caste based reservation could prove to be detrimental for the BJP. The Jat community bore huge loses economically and politically after the riots. We are unable to find people to work in our fields because majority of them who help us in agriculture were poor Muslims.
Because of the weakening of Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), sugar mill owners are now exploiting us. We lost our leader Chaudhary Ajit Singh who faced defeat in 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP used and threw Jats. Since people have now realised what a big mistake they committed, therefore, they are trying to teach Hindutva poster boys a lesson” he added.
The Jat and Muslim communities seem to be coming together in some forms in Thana Bhawan constituency in Shamli district to re-develop their decade-old political alliance.
Samajwadi Party (SP) candidate, Professor Sudhir Panwar – who is a Jat – seems to be encouraging apolitical equation which is difficult to politically exploit in any other constituency in Western Uttar Pradesh. If he succeeds in pulling off this combination, which even the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) did not dare to touch this time, he will ensure the defeat of Rana.
Rana is struggling hard to retain his seat because of his inability to get the support of major chunk of voters such as Muslims (1.10 lakh), Jatavs (a Schedule Caste community which constitute around 80,000 votes), Jats (50,000) and 20,000 non-Yadav Other Backward Class voters.
In Sardhana constituency in Meerut district, BJP’s Sangeet Som is a star candidate. He emerged as Hindu Hirdaya Samrat following the 2013 Muzaffarnagar communal riots. He was booked under National Security Act (NSA), which was later revoked. He is a sitting MLA but facing anti-incumbency.
He belongs to the Thakur community and enjoys overwhelming support of youth but winning election this year does not appear to be a cake walk for him. The anger among Jats for the BJP is making the battle an uphill task for him.
The BSP has fielded Imran Qureshi, son of Yaqoob Qureshi. Atul Pradhan, who is a popular Gujjar leader in the constituency, is the SP candidate. Again, Muslim voters are present in sizeable number (around 1 lakh) here. Dalits have around 50,000 votes, Gujjars 20,000, Jats 25,000 and Thakurs 30,000.
In Kairana, which is a Muslim-majority seat, BJP’s Mriganka – the daughter of MP Hukum Singh – is facing a tough fight from SP’s Nahid Hasan. Her cousin Anil Chauhan, who is contesting from the same seat as RLD candidate, is further damaging her prospect.
Chauhan was the BJP candidate from Kairana in the bypolls last year but lost by a margin of 1,100 votes to SP’s Hasan. After he was denied ticket this time by the BJP, he joined the RLD. He claims to have the support of many BJP workers in the area.