Muzaffarnagar: Despite sounding confident, the BJP is keeping its fingers crossed in the communally sensitive sugar belt in Western Uttar Pradesh as voters in eight seats, with a considerable population of Jats and Muslims, cast their ballot in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections.
Brisk polling took place in the agrarian belt, including Muzaffarnagar, Bagh-pat, Bijnor, Saharanpur, Kairana and Meerut, as voters virtually leapt from their beds early in the morning and headed for polling booths. There were queues outside booths in many constituencies, with visible excitement in villages. There were some reports of names missing from voters' list and EVM “malfunctioning” in Muslim-dominated areas.
Police women kept verifying identities of burqa-clad women as villagers reached polling stations in tractors and bullock carts.
“We did not face any problem at the poll booth,” said Roshni, a first-time voter from a college in Muzzaffarnagar city, who braved the scorching sun to exercise her franchise.
The mighty combination of SP-BSP-RLD is looking to seek a sweet revenge in the region for the 2014 washout by the BJP that has been alarmed by the RSS’ internal report saying that it is likely to lose six of the eight seats it won in the last election. By the final hour of voting, the new alliance appeared confident of accomplishing its mission.
Distressed cane farmers in the region are said to be unhappy with the BJP government for not getting them their sugar mill dues amounting to Rs 22,000 crore that have been pending for over an year. The voting pattern in this belt is crucial as it sets the tone for the entire state and the Hindi belt. The Narendra Modi wave in 2014 had started from this region itself following major Jat-Muslim riots in Muzzafarnagar in 2013.
After meetings with party workers, Mr Ajit Singh exuded confidence of a win. “Arithmatically, the SP-BSP-RLD combination is unbeatable,” Singh said.
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