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With 23 Muslim faces in phase 2, BSP makes fight tough in west UP

LUCKNOW: The BSP on Saturday announced 51 candidates for the second phase of UP elections, 23 of them are Muslims.
With this, the party has fielded 39 Muslim candidates out of 109 it has fielded for the first two phases. Political observers feel that this is an attempt by the BSP to make the field competitive in the region which has a strong presence of the minority community. The list also has 13 OBCs — most of them Jats — 10 dalits and five from upper castes.
“BSP has spotted an opportunity in the west considering the recent internal squabbles over ticket distribution in SP-RLD alliance and the fact that it’s not a wave election in favour of BJP the way it was in 2017,” says a political observer.
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A political observer said: “BSP has ensured that its social engineering formula will result in a hotly contested triangular fight in the region.
“It will not be an easy ride for BJP in light of anti-incumbency and the farmers’ issue and therefore, with the right kind of candidates and BSP’s own core vote base intact, the party was far from being written off,” said a party source.

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“In the first phase, Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded 16 Muslims while in the second phase, of the declared seats, there are 23 Muslims. In 2017, the party fielded 18 Muslims in the first phase and 25 in the corresponding seats in the second phase. So, the number is roughly equal,” said a party member.
Party spokesperson Dharamveer Chaudhary says that west Uttar Pradesh, covered primarily by the first two phases of the election, is dominated by three communities, 22% Dalits, 20% Jats and about 19% Muslims.
“Jats and Dalits were swayed by a religious narrative in 2017 and 2019 but now, they have seen through the hollow claims of the BJP government.
The farmers’ agitation over the farm laws, the failure of the BJP government to double their income as promised, and the ill-treatment of Dalits, the Hathras incident in which a Dalit girl was raped, are incidents still fresh in the minds of people. There is no wave for BJP,” Chaudhary said.
The other argument, however, is that where BSP and Samajwadi Party both field Muslim candidates, BJP is likely to benefit with a division of votes.
“This will depend on seats where both parties field a candidate from the minority community. BSP’s candidate selection criteria was to field a candidate whose community votes will add to the party’s existing Dalit vote base. In the first phase, the party came second in 30 seats while in the second phase, it stood second in about 12. BSP therefore has the potential to win 39% of the seats in the first two phases as per this formula, if BJP’s votes split,” said a senior party member.

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