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HomePoliticsPoll on knife’s edge in Azamgarh’s Mubarakpur; AIMIM makes fight quadrangular

Poll on knife’s edge in Azamgarh’s Mubarakpur; AIMIM makes fight quadrangular

Mubarakpur (UP), Feb 28 (PTI) Asaduddin Owaisi-led AIMIM may be seen as a minnow or at best a “spoiler” in the Uttar Pradesh assembly polls but in Azamgarh’s Mubarakpur seat it is being looked upon as a “serious contender”, challenging the SP and the BSP which have been strong here over the years.

This has been a Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) bastion as the party has remained undefeated since 1996 with the Samajwadi Party (SP) coming in second on all occasions barring 2002 when the Lok Jan Shakti party was second best.

The All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) has fielded Shah Alam alias ‘Guddu Jamali’, who has been an MLA from here for two straight terms albeit on a BSP ticket, while the SP’s candidate is Akhilesh Yadav, a namesake of the party’s chief, who has been coming second for the last two assembly polls.

People of the constituency insist that it is not so much about the AIMIM but Alam being a very strong candidate has propelled AIMIM to being a “serious contender” to Yadav and BSP’s Abdus Salam.

The BJP has fielded Arvind Jaiswal who is also fancying his chances in this Muslim-majority seat in the scenario of a three-way split in the Muslim vote.

SP’s Akhilesh Yadav is reminding people of the Bihar and the West Bengal assembly polls, saying while in Bihar the division of votes in favour of the AIMIM resulted in the victory of the BJP alliance, in West Bengal, where Owaisi’s party could not make much inroads, the BJP was defeated.

In Uttar Pradesh, people want Akhilesh Yadav’s government, so there is no place for AIMIM in the state and in Mubarakpur, he asserted.

“This is an election of ideology and development. I believe in secular and democratic principles, I am a socialist, there was all-round development under the Akhilesh Yadav government, while financial, social and political problems have increased under the BJP government,” Yadav told PTI.

Asked about him being a namesake of the SP supremo, Yadav said candidates of the SP gain due to Akhilesh Yadav’s name and more so is his case as he is his namesake and has been in politics for a long time.

Alam rejects the notion that fighting from a new party in UP would hamper his chances, saying he has won twice and his symbol may be new but he has been winning from here and people know him well.

“The basis of my politics is development and I stay away from religion and caste based politics,” he asserted.

“It doesn’t matter whether AIMIM has won or not but I consider myself capable of winning. I have worked with full honesty and served people who will back me and AIMIM,” Alam told PTI.

Asked if there were any apprehensions that besides Muslims, other communities may be reluctant to vote for the AIMIM, Alam said, “Hindu brothers would give me more votes than Muslims. 100 per cent, I am going to win this election.” BSP’s Salaam claimed he is winning, saying Owaisi’s party will not cross the 5,000-vote mark while he would beat SP’s candidate by over 25,000 votes.

Muslim voters are around 1,10,000 in Mubarakpur, while Dalit voters are around 78,000. There are around 65,000 Yadav voters, among the over 3,17,000 electorate here.

Muslims appear to be divided here with many backing Alam for his resourcefulness and the help extended by him during the Covid pandemic, while others are backing the SP on grounds that only the SP can stop the BJP from coming to power.

There is also a section among Muslims that remains loyal to the BSP but this group has shrunk. However, Dalit voters appear to be strongly behind the BSP.

Amirchand, a BSP supporter, said Dalits of this constituency have never looked anywhere else and will not do so this time.

He asserted that they only know one symbol on the EVM machine and that is the elephant (BSP’s election symbol).

Several Muslims also asserted that Alam’s backing was on the rise with each passing day and he could manage Hindu votes as well, as he had helped out many during the pandemic and people were grateful to him.

Alam is hoping to garner the bulk of Muslim vote and corner some Hindu votes to get over the line but it is not going to be easy as Yadavs are behind the SP and if a substantial number of Muslims go with the “cycle symbol” to counter the BJP at the state level, AIMIM would lose out. However, the fight is close, say many local political watchers.

Mohammad Salem, a chicken seller, said majority of Muslims are siding with Alam as he did lot of work during the Covid period helping people out of his own pocket.

“It is not about AIMIM but the candidate here. Alam has a strong base cutting across communities and castes,” he said.

Abdul Haleem, a shopkeeper in the main market here, said Muslims are in a dilemma as many have made up their mind to vote for Alam but others are sticking to the SP, so a division of votes is on the cards and a last minute switch of votes could also take place.

Reflecting the dilemma, when asked about their political preferences, an argument broke out among a group of Muslim men with many backing AIMIM’s Alam while others voicing support for the SP, asserting that a change of government in the state was only possible with support to Akhilesh Yadav’s party.

Jehangir, a trader, said those thinking from their mind about change of government were going in for the SP while those going with emotions were choosing AIMIM. He predicted that in the end Muslims opting for AIMIM will also switch to the SP for the fear of a repeat of Bihar.

“Shah Alam is a very good candidate but the time for AIMIM is not now as priority is change of government,” said Sher Ali sitting with his group of friends who nodded in agreement.

If already the SP-AIMIM conundrum was not enough, BSP is also an option for Muslims as it has fielded a Muslim candidate and the Dalit vote is strongly behind it.

There is unanimity on this seat on one thing – it is a very close election which is placed on a knife’s edge. The margin of victory for Alam was wafer thin last time as he won by 688 votes on a BSP ticket.

This seat will go to polls in the seventh and final phase of the assembly elections on March 7. The results will be declared on March 10. PTI ASK ANB ANB

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

Source: The Print

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