Both the Samajwadi Party and Bahujan Samaj Party were banking on Muslim votes along with their traditional Yadav and Dalit support in the Uttar Pradesh Assembly elections. It is on this account that both distributed a number of tickets to Muslim candidates to ensure the support of the community.
However, an exclusive exit poll conducted by CrowdNewsing to gauge the mood of Muslim voters in UP, pointed out that the community has voted diversely in this election. The poll, which was conducted with a sample size of 2500 voters in ten cities and towns of the state, reveals that 55% Muslims voted for the Samajwadi-Congress alliance, and 36% for the BSP. The other 9% voted for other parties.
The exit poll reveals that in communally disturbed cities of western Uttar Pradesh, people from the minority community have voted for the SP-Congress alliance whereas in many pockets of central and eastern Uttar Pradesh, the Muslims have stood with Mayawati’s Dalit-Muslim social engineering, bypassing the Congress-SP alliance as well as smaller parties like AIMIM (All India Majlis-e ittehadul Muslameen).
When probed about their disaffection for the BJP, most respondents blamed the party’s public positioning among the community. Altogether 86% respondents believe Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Shamshan versus Kabristan comment was a direct attack on the minorities. Only 7 per cent believed the Prime Minister’s statement was a reference to equality among all communities.
On the question of whether Ram Mandir or Babri Masjid was an electoral issue or not, 59% believed that it’s a non-starter. Among the respondents on this question, 75 % were people under the age of 30.
On the reason behind their voting percentage, 45 % said it was for the party’s ability to win, followed by the candidate’s ability to defeat BJP which stood at 29 % and candidate's track record at 20%.
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 per cent. Commenting on the need to have an exit poll exclusively among Muslims, Bilal Zaidi, the founder of CrowdNewsing, said, "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. The idea behind this survey was to look beyond these self-appointed interlocutors to understand the voting preferences as well as the aspirations of the community."
Tanweer Fazal, political analyst and sociologist, Associate Professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University, commenting on the diversity of Muslim voters, said, “ Muslims should be never be seen as a single community, there are various layers within the community, they vote accordingly. Besides this Mayawati had distributed tickets to Muslims in large numbers, the vote was destined to be divided.”
Finally, with many analysts predicting a hung assembly, 92 per cent of the respondents want SP and BSP to bury their differences and form a mega alliance to prevent a BJP government in Uttar Pradesh.