By Faisal Fareed, Twocircles.net
As the second phase of polling begins tomorrow, all eyes are again focussed on Muslims voters, especially among the 11 districts of Western UP and Rohilkhand areas where Muslims form a sizeable chunk of voters.
After the first phase where Muslims were divided among many seats, political pundits are keeping a tab on Muslims votes.
How Muslims matter in the second phase:
Among the 67 seats, there are presently 22 Muslim MLAs. It is the highest concentration in any phase. In 2007, among these districts, there were 20 Muslim MLAs.
The Muslim population is more than 30% in 37 assembly seats in this phase. These seats are in Saharanpur, Sambhal, Rampur, Bijnore, Amroha, Bareilly, Moradabad and Shahjahahanpur. On another 17 seats, Muslims are between 20-29%. It means that here Muslims are in a position to directly affect the result.
Presently, the highest number of Muslims MLAs-7-are in Moradabad and Sambhal (taken jointly). Bijnore, Rampur, Bareilly, Amroha, have three Muslim MLAs each while Badaun has two and Pilibhit has one Muslim MLA.
Surprisingly, Saharanpur which has around 39 percent Muslim population did not elect any Muslim MLA in 2012.
In 2012, SP had won 34, BSP got 18 and BJP won 10 seats. Congress had got three seats. Peace Party and Ittehad-e-Millat Council got one seat each. In 2012, SP had got the maximum share of Muslim votes. There were districts like Moradabad and Sambhal where SP won convincingly. SP and BSP are again banking on Muslim votes while for BJP it is the division which will matter.
The second phase having maximum Muslim concentration will set the trend for other phases. SP has a challenge to retain its tally and BSP and BJP have to improve their score.
Important Faces who are contesting the polls.
Azam Khan, Rampur, Eight-term MLA, minister.
Abdullah Azam, Swar Tanda, son of Azam Khan
Iqbal Mehmood, Sambhal, Four-term MLA and minister
Mehboob Ali, Amroha, three-term MLA and minister
Haji Riyaz Ali, Pilibhit, Five-term MLA, minister
Imran Masood, Nakud, Former MLA, Congress state Vice President
Jitin Prasad, Tilhar, Two-term MP, former union minister, and son of late Jitendra Prasad.
Ziyaur Rehman Barq, grandson of veteran leader Shafiqur Rehman Barq.
Chetan Chauhan, Naugawan Saadat, former cricketer and Chairman NIFT
Shuchi Chaudhary Bijnore, wife of Mausam Choudhary who is currently in jail for Bijnore’s Peda case.
Suresh Khanna, Shahjahanpur, Seven times MLA, Presently Leader of BJP legislature.
Nawab Kazim Ali alias Naved Miyan, Swar Tanda, Two-term MLA.