LUCKNOW: While eight seats of western UP which went to polls in the first phase had a dominant Muslim-OBC –Dalit factor, the dynamics of the second set of eight seats also of western UP is altogether different. Each of the eight seats-- Nagina (reserved), Hathras, Agra (reserved), Fatehpur Sikri, Aligarh, Amroha, Bulandshahr and the land of Lord Krishna Mathura – set to vote in the second phase on April 18 have different dynamics in terms of caste, religion and other factors.
While dominating upper caste on a few seats will consolidate BJP’s prospects, a strong presence of minority on some others will place the SP-BSP-RLD alliance in the strong position. Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri will be guided by the ‘Bollywood’ factor. BJP has reposed faith in ‘dream girl’ Hema Malini in Mathura, actor-turned-politician and Congress UP chief Raj Babbar is in fray from the historical city of Fatehpur Sikri.
Notably, all the eight seats to go to polls in the second phase were bagged by the BJP in 2104. While Agra (reserved), Aligarh, Bulandshahr and Hathras have been strong BJP bastions since 1991, there have been a few aberrations majorly in 2004 and 2009 when these seats were won by SP, BSP, RLD and Congress separately. This time around these seats may be in for another change owing to the alliance’s caste arithmetic.
For instance, Aligarh, from where the national discourse is decided to owe to controversies surrounding Aligarh Muslim University, is dominated by around 27 per cent upper-caste Hindu voters and 24 per cent OBC. MBC make 12 per cent of the population tilting the balance towards the BJP. The seat has been with the party since 1991 except 2004 when Congress won it and 2009 when it went to BSP.
The minority vote on the seat is estimated to be around 15 per cent. Now with SP-BSP and RLD together, their support base constitutes over 50 per cent of the total electorate in Aligarh. Similarly, since 1991, BJP has lost Agra, now a reserved seat, only twice in 1999 and 2004 to Raj Babbar as SP candidate. The party has retained Hathras and Bulandshahr since 1991 except 2009 to SP and RLD respectively.
The other three seats too have an almost similar demographic profile as that of Aligarh with a strong combination of upper-caste Hindus, non-Yadav OBCs and Dalits. The Muslim is just 20 per cent in Bulandshahr, around 10 per cent in Hathras and 12 per cent in Agra.
The demographic scenario of these four seats, favourable to the BJP till now, could present a different scenario in 2019 with opposition unified.
Now consider the other four seats including Nagina (reserved), Amroha, Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri. Both Nagin and Amroha have a strong presence of the minority community. While Nagina, which came into being in 2008, has over 40 per cent Muslims of the total population, Amroha as over 35 per cent. The prospects of the grand alliance could be bright in these two seats as they have a respectable chunk of Dalit vote as well. However, in 2014, BJP had swept in a strong Modi wave.
Amroha, BJP has won only once in 2014. This time, BSP has fielded Kunwar Danish Ali and Congress Sachin Chowdhry to take on sitting BJP MP Kanwar Singh Tanwar.
The remaining two seats – Mathura and Fatehpur Sikri, the Bollywood factor will rule the roost. Hema Malini, re-contesting from Mathura, is pitted against a comparatively week opposition with RLD’s Kunwar Narendra Singh whose brother and Kunwar Manvendra Singh is supporting BJP. Besides her stardom, Hema Malini would also depend on husband Dharmendra, a jat, to woo that section of demography. Even Dharmnedra had recently released an audio message seeking support for Hema.
Contesting from Fatehpur Sikri, Congress’s Raj Babbar has been MP twice from adjoining Agra. He is also hoping to cash in on his stardom this time around.
Though in both these constituencies, upper caste Hindu is around 30 per cent making a strong BJP clout, the alliance is intending to turn the table depending on sizable presence of backward and Dalit voters. The minority vote share both in Fatehpur Sikri and Mathura is less than 7 per cent.