BSP surged ahead of its rivals on Thursday by declaring names of its official candidates for 100 of the 403 Assembly seats in Uttar Pradesh, giving over one third to Muslims. Muslims account for nearly 20% of the state’s electorate and perhaps keeping this in mind, members of that community have been given tickets in 36 of the 100 seats spread over 20 districts declared on Thursday. “List of candidates for other seats will be released soon,” BSP said in a release in Lucknow.
The party has already shortlisted names of candidates for all the 403 seats, BSP supremo Mayawati told a recent press conference. Giving caste-wise details of the shortlisted candidates, she had said that 87 tickets will be given to Dalits, 97 to Muslims and 106 to OBCs. Of the 113 tickets earmarked for upper castes, Brahmins will get 66, Kshatriyas 36, and Kayasthas, Vaishyas and Punjabi 11, she had said. The BSP chief had said that she had finalised the names of candidates long ago and there will be no change in it.
Alleging that minorities were facing bias under Modi government, Mayawati had cautioned Muslims that voting for Samajwadi Party or Congress will only help BJP and sought their support “to stop” the saffron party. Muslims should not waste their vote as there is infighting in Samajwadi Party, and Congress lacks a voter base in Uttar Pradesh, Mayawati has said.
Divided Muslim votes translate to gains for BJP, while a consolidation will change the poll arithmetic as minorities play a crucial role in at least 125 of 403 constituencies. Muslims are considered the traditional vote bank of the ruling Samajwadi Party and the concern over SP family feud has been voiced by several top clerics including, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Delhi’s Jama Masjid and Maulana Salman Nadvi of Lucknow-based Darul Uloom Nadwatul Ulema.
Mayawati had also accused Opposition parties of levelling baseless charge against BSP that it is a casteist party so that other castes do not vote for it. “During all the four governments, BSP has worked in the interest of all castes besides the Dalits,” she had said, adding her party has also demanded quota on economic basis for the upper castes both in and outside Parliament.