BSP eyes Muslim outreach in U.P. with its first list for mayoral tickets

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The Bahujan Samaj Party’s (BSP) first list of candidates announced for Mayor seats in urban local bodies (ULB) across Uttar Pradesh signalled its focus on forming a Muslim-Scheduled Caste (SC) alliance in the State. The first list of 10 mayoral candidates released on Monday includes six Muslim faces, with the Dalit-centric party allocating its symbol to Muslim candidates in unreserved seats like Mathura, Prayagraj and Moradabad.

Even for Reserved (women) seats like Lucknow, or Firozabad, which is reserved for Other Backward Classes (OBC, women), the BSP nominated Muslim women candidates, making it clear that it aims for a broader Dalit-Muslim outreach. In U.P., the municipal polls are being seen as a ‘semi-final’ contest for political parties going into the 2024 General Elections in the country’s most politically crucial State.

Uttar Pradesh sends 80 MPs to the Lok Sabha.

The BSP has nominated Raja Mohtasim Ahmed in Mathura; Rukhsana Begum in Firozabad; Khadija Masood in Saharanpur; Shahin Bano from Lucknow; Sayeed Ahmed in Prayagraj; Mohammad Yameen in Moradabad; Lata from the Scheduled Caste (women) reserved seat of Agra; Bhagwan Das Phule in Jhansi (reserved for Scheduled Caste); Subhash Chandra Majhi in Varanasi; and Naval Kishore Nathani (Agarwal) in Gorakhpur.

Elections are to be held across 760 ULBs for 14,684 posts in U.P., including for 17 mayoral seats and 1,420 councillor posts in two phases on May 4 and May 11. Counting of votes will take place on May 13.

After a disastrous performance in the 2022 Vidhan Sabha polls, the BSP regained high hopes for a Muslim-Dalit alliance in the subsequent Azamgarh parliamentary by-poll, where its candidate Shah Alam (‘Guddu’) Jamali secured more than 2,60,000 votes (29% of the votes polled). The party, led by former four-time Chief Minister Mayawati, has renewed efforts to bring Muslims back into its fold by aggressively targeting the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on the State’s madrasa survey; inducting Imran Masood, an influential Muslim face in western U.P.; and now by nominating Muslims to more than half of its declared tickets in key mayoral seats.

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