Minorities favour SP-Congress

Assembly polls 2017: Varanasi, seven districts to vote tomorrow

Minorities favour SP-Congress

“Do you know why the BJP has not declared their chief ministerial candidate?” said Mahmood Ahmad of Madanpur in the pilgrimage city of Varanasi.

Without a pause, the weaver comes up with an answer to his own query. “Actually, the BJP does not need a face. After the election, they will form the government along with the BSP, and Mayawati will be the chief minister. The BSP has joined hands with the BJP twice in the past,” he said.

Ahmad has little inhibition in articulating his inclination towards the Samajwadi Party-Congress alliance, which he prefers to address as ‘gathbandhan’ in Hindi.

At his small shop that sells zari for sarees, the conversation progresses on the parties that the minorities may prefer. Ahmad’s three clients are equally vocal. They show their preference for the alliance — which has the catchline ‘UP ko yeh face pasand hai’ (UP likes this face) on posters with life-size photographs of Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav and Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi.

Asked why they should choose the SP-Congress, Riyaz Ahmad and Ahmed Zubair are quick to list Akhilesh’s achievements such as distribution of laptops, a pension scheme and construction of roads. Riyaz concurs with Mahmood. “Muslims voting for the BSP will help the BJP come to power by default,” he said.

Their contempt for the BJP has aggravated after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s November 8 announcement to demonetise Rs 500 and Rs 1,000 notes, which hit their daily earnings.

“We are still waiting for the ‘achche din’ promised by Wazir-e-Azam Modi. And why doesn’t he visit us?” says Zubair.

Though the Congress is the junior partner in the combine, Muslims in the holy city believe that it is acting as a glue to bind the SP to a secular thread, notwithstanding the Akhilesh Yadav government’s questionable role during the 2013 Muzaffarnagar riots.

The trend, however, thins out in the rural portions of district, which houses eight Assembly seats. A couple of Muslims there say they prefer the BSP to the SP.

“Mayawati is a better ruler because she enforces law and order and goondas disappear during her regime. She will ensure the development of the state this time since she has realised that she committed a mistake by erecting huge portraits in Lucknow in the past,” says Parvez Ali near Sarnath, where Gautam Buddha delivered his first sermon.

Poll panel notice to chief minister
The Election Commission on Monday issued a notice to Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav for violating the model code of conduct. The EC issued the notice to the SP chief for asking voters in Bhadohi to accept money from other parties, but to vote for his party only. The panel said it had received a report from the chief electoral officer of Uttar Pradesh regarding the remark. “...I heard huge amounts of money are being distributed (to buy votes). Please keep the money, but keep in mind the bicycle (SP symbol),” read the report, quoting Yadav.

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