Muslim Politics in Uttar Pradesh: Accusations of Complacency Leveled Against Samajwadi Party as BSP, Congress Field More Muslim Candidates in Upcoming Elections

Mayawati, BSP chief
Mayawati, BSP chiefPic- PTI

The BSP is placing a considerable reliance upon Muslim candidates in the upcoming urban body poll, scheduled for next month, having released a list of seven prospective candidates for seven cities in which they will compete. Notably, five of the seven candidates are of Muslim faith. The BSP strategists believe their best chance of success lies with their Muslim candidates running in Meerut, Shahjahanpur, Ghaziabad, Aligarh, and Bareily, while they seek to capitalise on OBC candidates in Kanpur and Ayodhya. In the 2017 polls, the BSP emerged victorious in both Meerut and Aligarh, with Sunita Verma becoming the mayor as an SC-Women contestant in Meerut and Mohammed Furqan emerging victorious in Aligarh.

On the 17th of April, the political party in question had unveiled a list of 10 candidates to compete across 10 districts. Amongst them, six Muslim candidates were nominated across seats in Mathura, Firozabad, Jhansi, Saharanpur, Lucknow, Varanasi, Prayagraj, and Muradabad.

BSP released the first list on 17th April. It contained the names of 10 candidates, six of them were muslims
BSP released the first list on 17th April. It contained the names of 10 candidates, six of them were muslims

Additionally, candidates from the Scheduled Caste community were nominated in Agra, Jhansi, and Varanasi. Overall, 11 of the 17 declared candidates from the party have been Muslims. It is worth acknowledging that the party originally placed Shahishta Parveen, the spouse of an erstwhile criminal cum politician named Atiq Ahmad, as a candidate for Prayagraj. However, she was expelled due to a warrant in the Umesh Pal murder case, and as such, has now been substituted with another Muslim candidate, Saeed Ahmad.

There were a total 7 candidates in the second list,five of them were Muslims
There were a total 7 candidates in the second list,five of them were Muslims

Size of population decisive in tickets allocation

When allocating the electoral tickets, attention is paid to the population size of the respective communities. Vishwanath Pal, the State President of the Bahujan Samaj party, told The Mooknayak that the party does not favour any particular community, stating, "We have taken into account the population advantage of a community in that area, like Manjhi in Benaras and Nishad in Kanpur. The Bahujan Samaj party aims to provide representation to all communities according to their numbers." He further explained that the party has distributed tickets in concordance with its slogan of "Jiski jitni sankhya bhari, uski utni bhagidaari," thereby allotting tickets to Nishads, Yadavs, and Kurmi in the Nagar Palika and Nagar Parishad. However, despite providing candidates from various communities, this may have gone unnoticed as there are only 17 seats in the Mayoral elections.

Record tickets given to Muslim candidates in 2017

Despite having a longstanding affiliation with the Samajwadi party, the Bahujan Samaj party had obtained significant backing from the Muslim communities in the past. In fact, many argue that they would not have experienced success until 2007 if it were not for the support of Muslims. During their tenure from 2007 to 2012, Naseemuddin Siddiqui was regarded as the Muslim face of the party and had been given crucial portfolios. However, following the party's disappointing performance in 2017, Siddiqui forsook the party. Since then, the party has placed considerable reliance upon the Muslim vote bank. This is evident from the fact that the party fielded a milestone of 99 Muslim candidates in 2017.

The Bahujan Samaj party placed high hopes on its Muslim vote bank once again for the 2022 elections as it nominated 88 Muslim candidates in contrast to the Samajwadi Party's 64 and Congress' 75 Muslim nominees. However, the party was greatly disappointed as none of these 88 Muslim candidates emerged victorious, with only one seat being won. In contrast, the SP, despite fielding fewer candidates, successfully secured a majority of its Muslim nominees in the Assembly. Political analysts attribute this to the desertion of Muslims from the BSP and the coalescing of their support behind the Samajwadi Party in recent elections since 2014. Such a movement is deemed to have stemmed from the polarization of Muslim votes caused by the rise of the BJP, which is viewed as a "Hindu-Nationalist" party. Furthermore, Muslims may be cautious of the BSP since it has previously stood alongside the BJP.

Accusations of political complacency

The Samajwadi Party, a stalwart in Muslim support, is facing accusations of complacency as it has only nominated Muslim candidates in four constituencies out of the 17 available in the recent elections in Uttar Pradesh. This is in stark contrast to the 11 Muslim nominees of the Bahujan Samaj Party. Similarly, the Congress, which has enjoyed Muslim support in previous elections, has only fielded four Muslim candidates in Firozabad, Meerut, Moradabad, and Shahjahanpur. In contrast, the BJP did not nominate any Muslim candidates for the 17 Mayoral seats. Furthermore, while the Municipal Corporation seats are crucial, it is imperative to note that Uttar Pradesh contains a total of 760 urban local bodies with over 14,866 seats, including those of Municipal Corporator and Nagar Palika Chairperson.

Mayawati, BSP chief
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