Desperate to send Jinnah’s portrait to Pakistan BJP MP faces triangular contest

Written by Sushmita | Published on: April 18, 2019
Aligarh, the land of intellectuals, historians and artists is seeing a three-way contest over the crucial Lok Sabha constituency.

AMU

Satish Gautam, the sitting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MP who was in news last year over a controversy surrounding Mohammad Ali Jinnah’s portrait at the renowned Aligarh Muslim University (AMU) is facing strong anti-incumbency and anger from traders. This has made the Lok Sabha election for the Aligarh constituency a triangular contest.

Satish Gautam is contesting against the Mahagathbandhan candidate Ajeet Baliyan of Bahujan Samajwadi Party (BSP) and Bijendra Singh of Congress in the elections being held today.

Gautam seems to be banking on the split of Muslim votes as the opposition candidates are hoping for the consolidation of votes in their favour.

Traders in the area feel that they chose Gautam to bring “pro-people” policies and not instigate controversies like the one in AMU.

In May 2018, Gautam stirred controversies when he demanded that the portrait of Jinnah be removed from AMU student union office where it had been for decades. Hindu Yuva Vahini affiliates had attacked students and state police lathi charged students. Several students were brutally attacked and sustained injuries.

There are around 3.50 lakh Muslim voters, while Brahmins, Vaishyas and Chhatriyas together constitute about seven lakh of the total 18.73 lakh voters. Jat, Yadav and Lodi account for four lakh.

As per experts, Gautam rode on the “Modi wave” of 2014 to win the seat in 2014 by defeating BSP’s Arvind Kumar Singh by over two lakh votes. However, they believe that things have changed since and things could be different this time.

He faces strong opposition from with the party, with veteran leader and former Chief Minister of the state, Kalyan Singh opposing his candidature.

Anger is also brewing against him over demonetisation and high GST, though he cant be solely held responsible. The lock industrialists of the area are said to be extremely upset with him.

This anti-incumbency may benefit both Congress and mahagathbandhan who have promised to focus on education and improve the city's infrastructure, many residents feel.

Baliyan, a newcomer is believed to have a good chance among the voters because of his strong support base among SC/ST voters.

A professor at Aligarh Muslim University, Ali Nadeem Rezavi said "It is high time that Muslims do tactical voting as that could play a very important role in the turnout in the election.”

Gautam has given a statement few hours back where he has reiterated his ‘resolve’ to send Jinnah’s portrait “back to Pakistan.”

Aligarh is having polls today in second phase of elections on April 18. Khair, Baroli, Atroli , Kol and Aligarh city are assembly segments in the constituency.