Lucknow: The Muslim card, played heavily by the
Congress party, will be on test Tuesday when 68 Uttar Pradesh
assembly constituencies go to poll during the sixth and
penultimate phase of the ogoing election.
Four of the 13 districts witnessing the poll have a substantial
Muslim population ranging between 25-39 percent, while the
remaining nine districts have 18-22 percent Muslims.
Together with the Muslim card, the much talked-about clout of
Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) chief Ajit Singh among the next dominant
Jat community is also bound to face a litmus test.
The bulk of the Muslim vote is likely to get divided between the
Samajwadi Party (SP) and the Congress-Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)
alliance, whose leaders have been wooing the Muslims.
On the other hand, the ruling Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is
struggling to retain a chunk of the 35 seats it had won in this
area in 2007, while BJP is banking upon possible polarization of
its traditional vote bank of hardcore Hindus as a reaction to the
Muslim-baiting by both Congress and SP.
About 2.11 crore voters were eligible to caste their vote at
21,317 polling stations in 68 constituencies, spread across the
districts of Saharanpur, Prabudh Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut,
Baghpat, Ghaziabad, Gautam Budh Nagar, Panchsheel Nagar,
Bulandshahr, Aligarh, Mahamaya Nagar, Mathura and Agra.
Even as this entire belt is notorious for its male chauvinism and
their dominance, with as many as 93,91,585 women listed as voters,
the phase has the highest number of women electors, besides some
Each of the key players -- SP, Congress-RLD and BSP -- made it a
point to get their respective prominent Muslim faces go around the
region. If SP was banking its hopes on Azam Khan, who belongs to
Rampur in the neighbourhood, the Congress was looking up to the
magic of Rashid Masood, who had crossed over from SP to their
side. But it was Haji Yaqoob Quraishi the BSP rebel (now with RLD)
who wields more influence than others in this belt. And he was
considered largely responsible for bringing Muslims in a big way
to the BSP, which bagged as many as 35 seats in 2007.
Interestingly, Quraishi's brother Mohd Yusuf Quraishi was inducted
into the Congress.
The scramble for the Muslim vote had led Mulayam Singh Yadav to
also award a ticket to the son-in-law of Jama Masjid Shahi Imam
Maulana Ahmed Bukhari, who came down to campaign for SP.
Prominent among the other leaders, whose prestige would be at
stake in this phase were former UP chief minister and former BJP
national president Rajnath Singh, who was a sitting MP from
Ghaziabad, BSP ministers Ramveer Upadhaya and Laxmi Narain, and
RLD chief Ajit Singh's son Jayant Chaudhary, the Lok Sabha member
from Mathura. Bollywood star-turned Congress star campaigner Raj
Babbar too had addressed several political rallies in parts of