Muzaffarnagar impact? BJP ahead in Western UP too, Muslim vote divided
In the absence of a consolidation of the Muslim vote in favour of any one party or alliance, the Muslim voter will be choosing from among the Congress, SP, BSP and even the Aam Aadmi Party.
The Bharatiya Janata Party should be pleased with itself for its juggernaut rolling across the state of Uttar Pradesh, leaving out no region of the expansive state.
According to the Lokniti,CSDS-IBN Election Tracker opinion poll, the regional picture of the state shows that the BJP is either leading or is neck and neck with the front-runner in each region.
The BJP leads in Poorvanchal, the BJP and SP lead together in Bundelkhand, BJP leads in Doab and in Awadh and is neck and neck with the SP in Rohilkhand.
That leaves Western UP, the highly communally sensitive belt of Meerut, Saharanpur, Moradabad, Bareilly, Agra and Aligarh divisions and such Muslim-dominated constituencies such as Moradabad, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shahjahanpur, Firozabad, Aligarh and more, all constituencies with anywhere between 25 and 50 percent Muslims.
According to the Lokniti, CSDS survey, the BJP is clearly ahead in Western Uttar Pradesh too, benefiting from its opponents' votes being divided among various parties.
While the RSS cadre are said to be working overtime to ensure a high turnout of Hindu voters in western UP, the Muslim voter will be choosing from among the Congress, SP, BSP and even the Aam Aadmi Party.
This appears to be the case about the Muslim vote elsewhere in the state too: The survey data shows a somewhat ambitious 11 percent of Muslims favouring the BJP, while 34 percent said they would vote for SP, 23 percent preferred the BSP and 21 percent preferred the Congress.
Clearly, the absence of a tie-up and seat-sharing agreement between the Congress and BSP / SP has affected the consolidation of the Muslim vote in favour of any one party, the result being that Muslim voters are likely to take their pick from among candidates of any of the three non-BJP main parties in the state depending on local candidates and other factors.
Incidentally, the Muzaffarnagar riots and their impact have actually grown in prominence since earlier this year — where only 64 percent of the respondents had heard of the Muzaffarnagar violence in JAnuary 2014, as much as 78 percent of the respondents in March said they knew about the communal riots of 2013. Also, 40 percent of respondents believed the Samajwadi Party to be "most responsible" for the riots.
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