Polarisation key to UP by-election

The massive building that houses one of the biggest and most important centres of Islamic education in the world, the skull cap wearing students attentively listening to the lectures of the clerics and the traffic snarls outside owing to the ongoing road consttruction works may seem to make the town like any other.

The town, where a by-poll is slated for Saturday, however, holds key to the shape the electoral politics in politically crucial Uttar Pradesh, especially the attitude of the Muslim votes.

 No wonder an attempt to polarise the by-poll has already begun though none of the major players–the BJP, Congress and the Samajwadi Party (SP) would officially admit the same.

“The BJP is trying to polarise the voters along communal lines but it will not succeed...people are with us’’, says Janeshwar Prasad, a former teacher, and SP worker.

The SP has fielded Meena Singh Rana, the wife of former state minister Rajendra Rana, whose death necessitated the by-poll.

Besides hoping to get the traditional Muslim votes of the party, she also banks on the sympathy factor.

 SP workers here, surprisingly do not appear to be excited by the their Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav’s claim of all round development of the state during his stint. ``Off course that will also help’’, Prasad says when specifically asked about it.

 BJP nominee Rampal Singh Pundeer, an RSS pracharak, hopes to get support of Hindu voters though he will not say that in so many words. A Thakur by caste, Pundeer has already landed in controversy after he allegedly delivered a provocative speech at an election meeting here a few days back. He also heavily banks on the Modi factor.

“People want change...they are fed up with the prevailing lawlessness in the state’’, Pundeer says.
Local BJP workers, however, say in no uncertain terms that only a polarisation will ensure the saffron party’s victory here.

For the Congress, the by-poll is very crucial as it will decide if the Muslims may return to the party fold. Congress nominee Maviya Ali, who is also the chairman of Deoband municipality, enjoys popularity among the residents of the town owing to the developmental works undertaken by him.
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