Muzaffarnagar riots: Was Jat-Muslim bonhomie compromised for votes?

As calm begins to return to riot-hit Muzafffarnagar district and surrounding areas, it appears that communal violence has left behind changed loyalties.

Zee Media Bureau/ Deepak Nagpal

Muzaffarnagar: As calm begins to return to riot-hit Muzafffarnagar district and surrounding areas, it appears that communal violence has left behind changed loyalties.

While Muslims, a strong votebank of the ruling Samajwadi Party, have blamed the Akhilesh Yadav government for having failed to protect them, Jats – long loyal to Ajit Singh’s Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) - on the other hand appear to be going the BJP way.

With the Hindu votebase already with the national party, the BJP – it appears – stands to gain the most from the recent communal flare-up in Uttar Pradesh that has so far claimed 44 lives.

While RLD seems to be losing out the most, the SP may end up a net gainer, despite reverses in certain areas that have faced the brunt of the riots. However, as the SP has limited sway in western UP, it may not be that much of a concern to Mulayam Singh Yadav.

In Muzaffarnagar and Shamli districts – which were the worst-hit in the communal clashes – people have already started looking up to BJP’s Narendra Modi as their “saviour”.

The tensions have had a negative impact on the harmony between Jats and Muslims.

Comments by some of the leaders from the ruling party have done no good to the SP.
For instance, Minority Affairs Minister Azam Khan has faulted Jats for instigating the violence, by raising provocative slogans at the recent `Bahu Beti Sammaan Bachao Mahapanchayat`. The Mahapanchayat was organised by Jats to protest crimes against women.

While Azam Khan’s remarks were aimed at safeguarding the Muslim votebank, Muslims being the worst hit in the riots are now disenchanted with the ruling SP.

While Jats constitute just 6% of the votebase in western UP, they are capable of swinging the tide in the districts of Bijnor, JP Nagar, Muzaffarnagar, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad, GB Nagar, Mathura, Agra and Aligarh.

Muslims, on the other hand, account for anywhere between 15 to 60 per cent of the electorate in several districts.

RLD chief Ajit Singh has termed the riots as match-fixing by the SP-BJP combine and is certain that the Jats will continue to vote for the RLD.