Western UP: Electoral battle for survival and uncertainty

*In 2012 BJP did not win any seat in Muzaffarnagar but won Lok Sabha.

*RLD chief Ajit Singh to battle for retaining family legacy.

LUCKNOW: In the run up for 2017 assembly polls western region of Uttar Pradesh which witnessed communal violence in 2013 will again decide the fate of several political parties and their stalwarts.

For many like Rashtriya Lok Dal it will be matter of survival while for BJP it will be an opportunity to repeat the 2014 Lok Sabha results.

A look at nine districts of western UP –Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar, Shamli, Baghpath, Meerut, Hapur, Ghaziabad, Noida and Bulandshaher—includes 44 assembly seats. In 2012, BSP emerged the winner with 15 seats, BJP got 12 while SP ended up with 10 seats. Congress got 4 while RLD won on 3 seats.

However the dynamics of western region changed totally after 2013 communal riots. The thread of communal harmony basically between Jat-Muslims in the region is shattered. The effect was visible in 2014 Lok Sabha polls with BJP clearly winning in the region in all these nine districts. RLD supreme Ajit Singh too lost from Baghpat.

In 2017, situation is limping to normalcy but the seeds of animosity have already been sown. The assembly elections will obviously get affected by the changed scenario. Realizing the importance, BJP has started its Parivartan Yatra from Saharanpur with its national president Amit Shah addressing the first meeting.

In 2012, SP failed to win a single seat in Shamli, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Noida. BSP also did not open its account in Shamli, Meerut and Hapur. BJP had no representation from Muzaffarnagar, Baghpat, Hapur and Ghaziabad in 2012 but it won with good margin in 2014 Lok Sabha polls.

Though the area has good population of Muslims, SP fails to couple it with any supporting vote. For example in Saharanpur, SP won just one seat Deoband from the total seven seats in the district in 2012. But it failed to retain it and lost in bypoll to Congress. Thus now SP has no MLA from Saharanpur.

The region will also decide the fate of various political families. RLD supreme Ajit Singh is now fighting back to wall. He has lost 2014 Lok Sabha polls from Baghpat. He has to stitch again the alliance of Jat and Muslims which is hard to achieve due to communal riots. In Saharanpur Qazi family is also fighting for survival. Former union minister Rasheed Masood, now in SP, is desperately trying to bring back political legacy to his family but his son Shazan Masood has failed to make any impact. On the other hand his nephew Imran Masood is gaining ground as Congress leader in the region.

Union minister Sanjeev Baliyan from Muzaffarnagar too has the added responsibility to retain the Jat voters in BJP’s favour. For BJP there are several local satraps in the region who want to make hay riding on the charged atmosphere.

Switching of political parties is going on at rapid pace in the region among local leaders. Muslims still remain uncertain about their preference while BJP is not letting any point slip to retain the advantage.