Protest meeting at AMU.

Protest meeting at AMU.

M-J factor in Aligarh keeps parties on tenterhooks; split in votes to help BJP

Muslim vote divided between coalition and Congress; Jats between BJP and the alliance

Agency Report | Aligarh (Uttar Pradesh) | 17 April, 2019 | 11:20 PM

Muslims and Jats, who together constitute 70 per cent of the electorate in Aligarh constituency, are going to be a key factor in the Lok Sabha elections here where voting will take place on Thursday.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded Jat candidate Ajit Balyan as the SP-BSP-RLD candidate to take on outgoing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP Satish Gautam, who had defeated BSP’s Arvind Kumar Singh with a margin of more than 2.86 lakh votes in 2014.

Owing to the caste factor and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD)’s backing, Balyan is likely to get a sizable chunk of Jat votes. Congress candidate Bijendra Singh is also a Jat but he does not seem to be much in reckoning, say voters. He had won the seat in 2004.

Other factors that could have a bearing on the vote include lack of infrastructure and civic amenities in Aligarh. Bad roads, lack of cleanliness and no significant development are visible in the constituency. Besides, traffic jams are a perennial issue in Aligarh, which also lacks connectivity with the southern part of the country.

Sugarcane and potato farmers have their own set of problems who say that inadequate technological support from the government has taken its toll on the produce. Similarly, the acclaimed Aligarh lock industry also awaits better labs here, and despite being an important seat of hardware industry, Aligarh still waits for proper attention.

Of the 70 per cent of over 13 lakh electorate, there are around 40 per cent Muslims and 30 per cent Jats. Besides them, others include Brahmins, Agarwals, Lodhs and Scheduled Caste in the Aligarh — which is also known for the prestigious Aligarh Muslim University (AMU).

The Muslim vote is divided between coalition parties and the Congress, and so are Jats between the BJP and the alliance. If Muslim and Jat community support the alliance, it may spell trouble for the saffron party.

Since Gautam had kicked a controversy for raising the Jinnah portrait issue as also SC/ST reservation issue at AMU, it would also affect the BJP prospects which won the seat in 1991, 1996, 1998 and 1999.

Over 50 people said the Muslim voters are very serious this time round and they would vote for the party which can defeat the BJP.

“This time our focus is to cast maximum votes. We have to vote intelligently. We will vote for the candidate who will secure victory. Towards the end of voting, it would become clear who can win,” Mohd Faisal, a resident of Upperkot, said.

An Ayurveda doctor, Kalim Khan, said: “The main fight here is between BJP and alliance. The Muslim voters are divided between Congress and alliance candidates…and many others are also undecided. So, it is difficult to say who will win. If majority of Muslim voters chose to go with alliance, it would win. But if they go to Congress, BJP will win. The same condition is with the Jat votes who are divided between BJP and alliance.”

Khan, however, said that some educated persons are with the BJP here. “I am also a BJP supporter.”

Internal party conflict over outgoing MP Gautam also makes it a challenging battle for the saffron party in Aligarh.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is a “popular factor” here, and if BJP manages to win this seat, most of the credit would go to the PM, according to the doctor.

The backing of Lodhs — the traditional vote bank of the BJP, who are present in big numbers in Aligarh, mainly in Atrauli Assembly segment — for Gautam may also not be as strong as the last time.

Voters in Atrauli — one of the five Assembly segments besides Barauli, Koil, Aligarh City and Khair — are not quite happy with Gautam’s performance. “No one is happy with Gautam here. I will vote for BJP only because of Modi. The same condition is with others, so far as I know,” Arpit Singh, a resident of Atrauli, said.

“BJP could neither focus properly on local issues nor could it maintain Hindu-Muslim unity. Lock industry and other businesses are hit by the GST (Goods and Services Tax). Modi has shattered the economy,” Mohd Sahid, a resident of Civil Lines, said.

The results of the polls will be declared on May 23. (IANS)