Muslim voters hold the key to the election on the three seats of western UP, viz Moradabad, Sambhal and Rampur which will go to poll in the third phase of polling for the 17th Lok Sabha on April 23. These three seats will also decide the fate of the alliance as they are known to be a stronghold of Samajwadi Party after Congress lost its lustre in UP.

Muslims are predominantly decisive on all these three Lok Sabha constituencies which will witness polling on Tuesday. While on Rampur and Sambhal seats Muslim votes are more than 50%, in Moradabad, it is 47%, sufficient enough to have a decisive impact on the poll results if they are undivided.

The three seats are known as “high-profile” and personalities like Maulana Abdul Kalam Azad (INC, Rampur), Mulayam Singh and Ramgopal Yadav (SP, Sambhal) and Mohammad Azharuddin (INC, Moradabad) had represented the seat in the past.

Even though considered strongholds of the SP, the party lost on all three in the 2014 Lok Sabha elections. This time, after entering into an alliance with BSP and RLD, the SP seems confident of winning these seats back even though it is facing a strong challenge from both the BJP and Congress. The division of Muslim votes can weaken the prospects of the alliance as well as the Congress and benefit BJP. This election is surely an acid test for the alliance leaders Mayawati and Akhilesh Yadav who have campaigned vigorously for their candidates.

MORADABAD

Candidates for 2019

BJP – Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar

SP – Dr ST Hasan

INC – Imran Pratapgarhi

Total electorate – 19.41 lakh

It has five assembly segments, viz Barhapur, Kanth, Moradabad city, Moradabad Rural, and Thakurdwara. Three are with BJP and two with SP.

The rivals are the same on the Moradabad seat as they were in 2014. Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar of BJP and Dr ST Hasan of SP but the scenario has changed completely. There is no Modi wave in this election which can favour the SP and there is resentment against Sarvesh Kumar as the locals allege he hardly did any work during his tenure.

Kunwar Sarvesh was a five-time MLA from Thakurdwara assembly segment of Moradabad before he was elected as MP in 2014. Now, his son too is an MLA from Barhapur.

The people here complain about lack of development, unemployment and poor state of the industry. Moradabad is known for its brass industry in particular. “Post demonetisation and GST, not only the brass industry but other businesses as well are badly affected,” said Nizam, a local businessman. This will definitely have a bearing on the results.

In 2009, former Indian Cricket captain Mohammad Azharuddin had won the seat on a Congress ticket. He, however, did not contest in 2014 and the seat went to Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar who defeated Dr ST Hasan of SP. Making the contest triangular is Imran Pratapgarhi of Congress who was given the ticket after party’s state president Raj Babbar refused to contest from here.

Pratapgarhi is a young poet who is widely popular on social media. His speeches are a big hit with the masses and draw large crowds.

The Congress is expected to make a dent in the upper caste and Valmiki vote banks of BJP.

2014 Election result

BJP – Kunwar Sarvesh Kumar – 4,85,224

SP – Dr ST Hasan – 3,97,729

BSP – Haji Mohammad Yaqub – 1,60,945

Margin of victory 87,504

SAMBHAL

Candidates for 2019

BJP – Parmeshwar Lal Saini

SP – Shafiqur Rahman Barq

INC – Major JP Singh

Total Electorate – 1693229

It has five assembly segments, Chandausi, Asmoli, Bilari, Kundarki, and Sambhal. Of these four are with SP and one with BJP.

The sitting BJP MP, Satyapal Singh Saini, could not get the ticket on this Lok Sabha seat which went to Parmeshwar Lal Saini. On the contrary, his main rival, Shafiqur Rahman Barq of SP is in the fray as the alliance candidate who was second in the 2014 election. Barq had represented the constituency in 2009 on a BSP ticket. Prior to this, Barq has served three tenures in the Parliament from the Moradabad seat in 1996, 1998 and 2004. Congress candidate Major JP Singh is not a well-known face.

The seat has been known as an SP bastion. From 1998 to 2004, Mulayam Singh Yadav has been elected twice from here while his brother Ramgopal Yadav was elected from here in 2004. In 2009, however, the seat went to BSP’s Barq.

2014 Election result

BJP – SP Singh Saini – 3, 60,000

SP – Shafiqur Rahman Barq – 3, 55,068

BSP – Aqueelur Rehman Khan – 2, 52,640

INC – Pramod Krishnan – 16,034

RAMPUR

Candidates for 2019

BJP – Jayaprada

SP – Azam Khan

INC – Sanjay Kapoor

Total Electorate – 16, 76,496

It has five Assembly segments, Suar, Chamraua, Bilaspura, Rampur and Milak. Two have BJP MLAs while three are with SP.

A high-voltage battle is taking place on the Rampur seat with Jayaprada of BJP in a direct fight with Azam Khan of SP. Sanjay Kapoor of Congress might prove to be a game changer though.

Azam Khan has been an influential leader of SP who hails from Rampur hence politics in Rampur revolves around him. He is an SP heavyweight and former minister in UP cabinet. Presently he is the MLA from Rampur while his son Abdullah Khan is MLA from Suar of this Lok Sabha constituency.

Jayaprada had represented Rampur in 2004 and 2009 on SP ticket but in 2014 she contested from Bijnor on an RLD ticket and was badly defeated. She left the SP with her political mentor Amar Singh in view of his differences with the party top brass. She had recently joined the BJP and is given ticket from Rampur to contest against Azam Khan.

Azam claims to have introduced Jaya to Rampur in 2004 but later on the two parted ways and he did not support her candidature in 2009. Now when the two are in the fray against each other they have indulged in vitriolic attack and counter-attack.

BSP supremo Mayawati and SP President Akhilesh Yadav had also come to campaign for Azam Khan in Rampur who was banned for 72 hours by the EC for making disparaging remarks against Jaya.

Muslims dominates this seat with 9.5 lakh votes out of the total of 16.76 lakh votes. Dalits have 1.5 lakh votes while Yadavs too have a sizeable number here.

2014 Election result

BJP – Dr Nepal Singh – 3, 58,616

SP – Naseer Ahmad Khan – 3, 35,181

INC – Nawab Kazim Ali Khan – 1, 56,466

BSP – Akbar Hussain – 81,006

AIMF – Janat Nisha – 4,473

Margin of victory – 23, 435