New Delhi: With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) all set to finalise its tickets for the assembly elections in five states, the party’s minority unit has urged the central leadership to consider fielding Muslim candidates in Uttar Pradesh.
In the 2017 assembly elections in UP, the party didn’t field a single Muslim candidate. This time, the BJP Minority Morcha has called for at least 20 candidates, said its chief Jamal Siddiqui.
“There are a number of seats that have a sizeable Muslim population and there are many which we had lost by a small margin too. Take, for example, Sambhal, Moradabad, Meerut, which have a big number of Muslim voters,” Siddiqui told ThePrint.
“In West Bengal too, the party had fielded Muslim candidates and we are also suggesting names for UP this time. We want more representation from the Muslim community and this will help them move forward in society,” he said.
According to Siddiqui, the Minority Morcha has identified 100 seats that have 30 per cent minority population, 140 seats with 20 per cent minority vote and 40 seats with 60-70 per cent. “Most of these seats are in western Uttar Pradesh, Awadh and Braj regions,” he added.
According to sources, the party is concerned about facing issues in western UP even as the controversial farm laws have been repealed.
Muslims comprise around 19 per cent of the total population in Uttar Pradesh, and the BJP has already chalked out a plan to focus on areas dominated by the community where it lost by narrow margins in 2017.
Field candidates from ‘right seat’
Siddiqui said the West Bengal experience shows that if more Muslim candidates are fielded from the “right seat”, they can emerge victorious.
“Though (our Muslim candidates) did not win a seat (in Bengal), in two seats, we gave tough competition. In Assam too, we had fielded candidates from the minority community,” he said.
The Minority Morcha has already set a target to get at least 5,000 new workers from these communities in each assembly constituency. “Under this, 100 people have been given the responsibility in each assembly constituency to create contact with at least 50-100 persons,” said a BJP leader who didn’t wish to be named.
Siddiqui said there are a number of Muslim-majority seats where the BJP lost in 2017 by slender margins.
“For instance, in Saharanpur Nagar, we lost to the Samajwadi Party by 4,000 votes. In Dholana, which comes under the Ghaziabad district, the margin was also very slim. There are many such examples,” he said.
There is no definitive data available on whether the Muslim community votes for the BJP.
However, Studies in Indian Politics, a statistical report on the election results in all states conducted between 2017 and 2018, said “an analysis of the results (Uttar Pradesh) by proportion of Muslim population in constituencies shows that BJP was ahead both in terms of votes and seats in both low and high Muslim-dominated constituencies”.
On Tuesday, the core committee members of the BJP’s Uttar Pradesh unit will meet the central leadership to finalise the candidates list. Senior leaders including Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, Deputy Chief Ministers Keshav Prasad Maurya and Dinesh Sharma, and state BJP chief Swatantra Dev Singh will attend the meeting.
UP will vote in seven phases starting 10 February. The results will be declared on 10 March.
(Edited by Amit Upadhyaya)