Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Intense Battle Brews For Muslim Vote In Uttar Pradesh Ahead Of Polls

Lok Sabha Elections 2024: Intense Battle Brews For Muslim Vote In Uttar Pradesh Ahead Of Polls

Comprising 19% of Uttar Pradesh's population, Muslims hold significant sway in approximately 24 Lok Sabha seats with their population ranging from 20% to 50%.

BISWAJEET BANERJEEUpdated: Monday, March 18, 2024, 04:32 PM IST
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Uttar Pradesh Lok Sabha Elections 2024 | FPJ

Lucknow: With the 2024 Lok Sabha elections looming in Uttar Pradesh, a fierce battle for the Muslim vote is anticipated among the Samajwadi Party-led INDIA bloc, the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), and even the right-wing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which is intensifying its efforts to appeal to Pasmanda (backward) Muslims who have reaped the benefits of welfare programs.

Comprising 19% of Uttar Pradesh's population, Muslims hold significant sway in approximately 24 Lok Sabha seats with their population ranging from 20% to 50%.

The Samajwadi Party (SP) is actively pursuing the OBC-Muslim formula for the last decade or so. It helped in increase in its seat count from 47 in the 2017 assembly election to 111 in the 2022 polls.

In contrast, the BSP clinched 10 seats in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections but experienced a sharp decline to just one seat in the 2022 assembly elections, attributed to a shift in Muslim votes towards the SP. The SP, on its part, is banking on the Dalit-Muslim coalition to revive its position in state politics.

BJP Eyes Pasmanda Muslims

Meanwhile, the BJP has been conducting meetings and rallies in Muslim-majority areas, aiming to garner support from Pasmanda Muslims. Despite the implementation of controversial issues like the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the BJP's stance on issues such as the Gyanvapi mosque in Varanasi and Krishna Janmabhoomi in Mathura, party leaders remain optimistic about winning over a segment of the Muslim population who have benefited from government welfare initiatives.

Analysts speculate that the BJP may benefit from Hindu-Muslim polarization, citing past victories in Muslim-dominated constituencies like Rampur, Sambhal, Amroha, and others.

SP-Congress target 24 constituencies

The Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance aims to consolidate the Muslim vote across 24 constituencies in Uttar Pradesh. SP has announced 41 candidates so far, including Muslim candidates for Ghazipur and Kairana, with plans to nominate a replacement for the late Shafiqur Rehman Barq in Sambhal.

To appeal to its traditional OBC support base, the SP strategically nominated OBC candidates in Muslim-majority constituencies. Meanwhile, the Congress, which is to contest 17 seats in the INDIA bloc, is yet to declare its candidates.

BSP fields Muslims

The Bahujan Samaj Party has put forward Muslim candidates for several seats, including Dr. Mujahid Hussain in Amroha, Irfan Saifi in Moradabad, Anish Ahmed Khan (known as Phool Babu) in Pilibhit, and Majid Ali in Saharanpur.

Political observer Rajesh Kumar Singh says that the SP-Congress alliance stands to gain a substantial portion of Muslim votes, although the BSP's Muslim candidates could chip away at the INDIA bloc's support base.

While the BJP may secure a fraction of Pasmanda Muslim votes due to welfare schemes, the overall electoral landscape remains dynamic as the parties gear up for a fierce electoral showdown.

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