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Will Saharanpur see a repeat of 2014? (Constituency Profile)


IANS Saharanpur
Among the seats in Western Uttar Pradesh seats going to the polls in the first phase of the 2019 Lok Sabha elections, Saharanpur presents a unique picture. The constituency has a large presence of Muslims. The BJP had won the seat in 2014 and the scenario could repeat itself in 2019 given that both the Congress and the BSP have put up strong candidates from the Muslim community.
The significance of Saharanpur can be judged from the fact that Uttar Pradesh BJP started its campaign for the Lok Sabha elections from the constituency and Bahujan Samaj Party-Samajwadi Party-Rashtriya Lok Dal combine will hold its first joint rally here.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath began the Lok Sabha campaign from Shakumbhari Temple in Saharanpur district as an apparent move counter the SP-BSP-RLD alliance's campaign from Deoband in the same district.
The three Uttar Pradesh alliance partners - SP, BSP and RLD - are slated to hold their first joint rally at Deoband on April 7 and the choice of the venue, which has India's largest Islamic seminary, is being considered significant.
Adityanath had said at an event that the opposition alliance's choice of Deoband was an indication "of its orientation and priorities".
The Shakumbhari temple is about 40 km from Deoband. BJP President Amit Shah had launched BJP's Parivartan Yatra in 2017 from Saharanpur.
While the BJP has repeated its outgoing MP Raghav Lakhanpal, both the Congress and BSP-SP-RLD have fielded strong candidates from the minority community.
The Congress has repeated its candidate Imran Masood, who had put up a strong fight in 2014, when he lost to Lakhanpal by about 65,000 votes.
Masood had made controversial remarks about Prime Minister Narendra Modi ahead of 2014 Lok Sabha polls. He was censured by the Congress leadership for his "chop Narendra Modi into pieces" remark and was asked issue a public clarification.
The Bahujan Samaj Party has fielded Fazlur Rahman. He owns meat and food processing units and also has clout in the area.
With both Masood and Rahman being considered strong candidates, there is a feeling among voters here that there could be a division among minority votes which would benefit the BJP.
There is also talks of tactical voting by the Muslim community, which accounts for about 42 per cent of the population, to defeat the BJP. In such a scenario, Rahman could benefit as the BSP already has a core support base.
One reason for Imran Masood losing the 2014 election was that his cousin Shadan Masood, son of his uncle Rasheed Masood, contested as a Samajwadi Party candidate.
What can also boost prospects of Imran Masood is Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi's meeting with Bhim Army Chief Chandrashekhar in Meerut earlier this month. The Bhim Army emerged from Saharanpur and it has found a place among Dalit youths in Western Uttar Pradesh.
The Saharanpur Lok Sabha constituency includes five Assembly seats -- Behat, Saharanpur, Saharanpur Dehat, Rampur Maniharan and Deoband.
Voting will take place at Saharanpur on May 11.
(Prashant Sood can be contacted at

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First Published: Mar 31 2019 | 5:08 PM IST

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