The notion that the Muslim community of Uttar Pradesh behaves like a single votebank has fallen flat, at least this time around.
An in-depth study and survey of 10 cities and towns of Uttar Pradesh reveals that the Muslim voter was anything but strategic in the three-way contest between the BJP, BSP and the SP-Congress alliance. 55% of the respondents voted for the alliance, 36% voted for the BSP and the remaining for smaller parties including AIMIM. The BJP bagged just 2% of the Muslim vote.
The survey was conducted by CrowdNewsing, a content platform that crowdsources news and data. “There is a tendency in the mainstream media and political parties to engage with religious clerics whenever there is a conversation around the Muslim population, and elections are no different”, Bilal Zaidi, founder of CrowdNewsing tells The Quint.
The idea behing this survey was to look beyond these self-appointed interlocutors to understand the voting preferences as well as the aspirations of the community.
The first-of-its-kind survey, sponsored entirely through crowdfunding, reveals many interesting facts.
Support for Mayawati in Central and Eastern UP
In communally disturbed cities like Shamli and Kairana of western Uttar Pradesh, the Congress-SP alliance seems to have prevailed over the BSP. But in many pockets of central and eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Muslim community seems to have strongly backed Mayawati’s Dalit-Muslim social engineering, bypassing the SP-Congress alliance as well as smaller parties like the AIMIM and the Peace Party.
Tactical Voting to Keep BJP Out?
When probed about the reasons behind their disaffection for the BJP, most of the respondents pointed to the party’s public positioning against the community. 86% of respondents believe Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s ‘Shamshan-Kabristan’ comment was a direct attack on minorities. Only 7% believed the Prime Minister’s statement was a reference to equality among all communities. The rest did not comment.
Is Ram Mandir/Babri Masjid an Election Issue Today?
Interestingly, when asked whether Ram Mandir or Babri Masjid is an election issue or not, 58% believed it was a non-starter. This includes close to 75% of voters under 30 years of age.
Vote for Candidate’s Track Record or to Keep BJP Out?
When asked about the reasons behind their voting preference, the top answer was ‘candidate’s track record’ with 45%, followed by ‘the candidate’s ability to defeat the BJP candidate’ at 20% and ‘the party’s chances of winning’ also at 20%.
Development or Safety, What Takes Priority?
Among the issues that matter the most, development of infrastructure, roads, water and electricity tops the agenda at 44%, followed by the party’s ability to ‘prevent riots and communal violence’ at 23%, ‘creation of jobs’ at 19% and ‘candidate’s religion’ at 12 percent.
Muslims in UP Want an SP-Congress-BSP Alliance
And finally, with many analysts predicting a hung assembly, 92% of the respondents want SP and BSP to bury their differences and form a mega-alliance to deny a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.
(Bilal has been a journalist for more than 13 years with organisations like NDTV, NewsX and Times Now. During his career as a political reporter, Bilal covered 22 Assembly and three General elections across India. He has covered all major political parties in India and interviewed senior politicians like Narendra Modi, Rajnath Singh, P Chidambaram, and Salman Khurshid, among others. He keeps a close eye on issues of identity and social inclusion. You can click here to support the team behind this survey.)