Fierce battle for Muslim votes in UP Assembly polls

Lucknow, Jan 31 (UNI) A fierce battle for Muslim votes is underway in Uttar Pradesh assembly elections as all major parties, barring the BJP, are trying to come out with the best strategy to win over minority voters who have the power to influence results in over 130 seats.

Muslims constitute 18 per cent of the state’s population
and can tilt the balance in around 130 out of 403 Assembly seats. The desperation to win Muslim votes can be gauged from the way parties are digging up old issues like the Batla House encounter and Salman Rushdie controversy.

But BJP, too, is interested in this multi-corner contest for Muslim votes. If this leads to a polarisation on communal lines, it would be the party to benefit the most.

Congress has taken the lead announcing 4.5 per cent minority quota and promising to make it 9 per cent if voted to power, SP has announced an 18 per cent quota for Muslims in government jobs and educational institutes.

The BSP has not made any promise, but has given ticket to 84 Muslims (21 per cent of the total 403 candidates), highest in comparison to the Congress’s (61) and SP’s (75), indicating it would give more representation to Muslims if it forms government.

This has given a fresh lease of life to BJP. The party is using the minority quota issue to polarise votes on communal lines. The attempt is to woo Hindu backward classes whose share in the OBC quota has shrunk because of the 4.5 per cent minority quota.