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|September 17, 1999||
Muslims hold the key in several UP constituencies
C P Jha in Lucknow
Muslims in Uttar Pradesh, who are being asked by several minorities groups to go in for ''tactical voting'' in the general election, may make or mar the prospects of the Bahujan Samaj Party, the Congress and the Samajwadi Party in the state.
A host of 'non-political' groups including the All India Milli Council have released their separate lists of non-Bharatiya Janata Party candidates for various seats in the state to help the community go in for tactical voting.
Polling in the first phase involving 30 of the 85 seats in the state will be held on Saturday. The second phase on September 25 covers 24 seats and the remaining 31 will go to polls in the third last phase on October 3.
In an attempt to woo Muslim voters, constituting about 16.5 per cent of the total electorate in the state, the BSP, Congress and the SP have given tickets to several Muslim candidates. The BSP has fielded 17 Muslim candidates, which is the highest in the state.
The BJP, however, has fielded only one candidate from the community, Minister of State for Information and Broadcasting Muktar Abbas Naqvi, who is seeking re-election from Rampur. He was the BJP's only elected Muslim member in the 12th Lok Sabha.
The BSP has fielded Muslim candidates for Agra, Amroha, Azamgarh, Bahraich, Bareily, Bulandshahr, Etah, Hapur, Lucknow, Maharajganj, Meerut, Muradabad, Nainital, Pilibhit, Saharanpur, Shahabad and Unnao.
Prominent among its candidates are former union minister Arif Muhammad Khan from Bahraich and Akbar Ahmed from Azamgarh. Both are sitting MPs from their respective constituencies.
Four Muslim candidates of the party had emerged as the runner up and eight others in the third spot in the 1998 election.
The Samajwadi Party has put up Muslim candidates in 15 seats -- Amethi, Badaun, Baghpat, Bahraich, Balrampur, Dumariaganj, Kairana, Moradabad, Nainital, Pratapgarh, Rampur, Sahabad, Saharanpur, Sitapur and Varanasi. Prominent among them are former Union minister Salim Sherwani (Badaun) and former state minister Mukhtar Anees (Sitapur).
The Congress has fielded 11 Muslim candidates from Bareilly, Bulandshahr, Dumariaganj, Farrukhabad, Ghazipur, Gorakhpur, Jalesar, Muzaffarnagar, Rampur, Sitapur and Unnao. Its prominent candidates are Begum Noor Bano (Rampur), former state minister and sitting MLA Ammar Rizvi (Sitapur) and Louise Fernandes Khurshid (Farukhabad), wife of state party president Salman Khurshid.
In about two dozen constituencies, the Muslim community, comprising 20 to 40 per cent of the voters, have a decisive say in the poll outcome.
These include Amroha, Badaun, Bahraich, Balrampur, Bareilly, Dumariaganj, Farukhabad, Ghosi, Kaiserganj, Meerut, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Rampur, Saharanpur and Sambhal.
Of the 114 Muslim candidates in UP in 1998, eight finished as runners up (BSP 4, SP 3, Congress 1) and 14 in the third spot (BSP 8, SP 4, Congress 1, BKKP 1).
The highest-ever participation of candidates from the community was 297 in 1996. In 1989 there were only 99 Muslims in the fray.
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