Hindu Mood For “Modi - The Upar Wala” Clashes With Nagina’s Mahagathbandhan Math In Bijnor’s Caste And Muslim Dominated Electoral Backyard

Sumati Mehrishi

Apr 18, 2019, 06:46 PM | Updated 06:46 PM IST

BJP office in Nagina segment. 
BJP office in Nagina segment. 
  • There are three major candidates in the fray for Nagina: BJP’s Yashwant Singh, Omwati Devi of Congress, and Girish Chandra who represents the SP-BSP-RLD combine.
  • While the arithmetic appears in favour of the grand alliance, the voter may just change his mind sensing a weak stitch and a poor fabric.
  • Two plus two is not five. In the Nagina of 2019, the Hindu voter, mostly and most enthusiastically, would make you see a social equation of numbers that he sees. He tries so long and so hard that you may end up squinting - only to see what the "lesser side" has to offer. What he sees would be summed up by psephologists as greatly unlikely - if not - impossible.

    The music from campaign carts rolling over Nagina's Station Road in Congress candidate Omwati Devi Jatav's support, makes businessman Ravinder Sisodia shine with happiness. This time, yet again, there is another cart, and he shines like the corn seeds under the sun at his shop. "Omwati ji contests to win," he says.

    He considers Jatav a tough, powerful and time tested candidate, who has tasted the turf from and for all major parties previously, and enjoys the support of her "influential husband" (a retired IAS officer).

    Sisodia's interest in this Congress candidate, even when he is not cheering for the party, is nothing but a thing inherent to and shooting from Bijnor's caste-ridden electoral chess. In Nehtaur, a Vidhan Sabha constituency in Nagina town - a separate constituency - reserved since 2009, I am simply double digit kilometers away from Bijnor constituency while still in Bijnor. There is nothing much to suggest that I am not in Bijnor (the constituency).

    This time, believes Sisodia, "Omwati ji" could make a dent in the fight between the gathbandhan and the BJP. He and many other surrounding him at a shop situated at the Station Road, do not consider Congress as a reckoning third force. "There is the gathbandhan on one end. There is BJP on the other. Both will be clashing in a tough contest," Sisodia explains.

    Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) is expected to give incumbent BJP a sandpaper-tough resistance, much as it has in Bijnor - the constituency. Nagina is part of Bijnor district but a separate constituency.

    Roughly everything is expected to fall in the same pattern as Bijnor, by most voters in Nagina, regardless of their caste or religion. There are a few things that make Nagina different. Gurjars won't tilt it. The Dalit vote just might.

    No vote in particular, people believe, will shift "completely", "en masse", as it is perceived to have in Bijnor, to the gathbandhan, except the Muslim vote. The remaining will be done and dusted in what remains in the 60:40 ratio - as the Muslim Hindu vote is understood to be in Nagina.

    Yet, the stronger Jatav's campaign becomes, the happier and louder, Sisodia is. He is not the only one. Most customers at his counter swear by Omwati Devi's gusty presence, and I meet the same emotion elsewhere.

    A few customers at his shop explain, "Jitna zyada vote Omvati ji kheenchengee, utna hee faida BJP ko hoga. Gathbandhan ko inse nuksaan hai (How many ever votes Omvati wrests, BJP will benefit proportionately. The grand alliance will be hit as a result)." Sisodia adds, "This is a reserved category seat and the SC population vote is the deciding factor. Mayawati ji is looking to wrest the Dalit vote. The Congress will play the role of a spoiler. The Muslim vote will also get divided."

    In the wave election of 2014, sitting MP and current candidate Yashwant Singh had defeated then sitting MP from Samajwadi Party Yashwir Singh. In 2019, BSP is manning it for the Mahagathbandhan. Nagina, a stronghold of the Samajwadi Party until 2014, saw the party reclaim Noorpur Assembly seat in the bypoll in 2018.

    The bypoll was held owing to sitting (late) MLA Lokendra Paratap Singh Chauhan's death - tilting the seat in SP's favour. Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) and BSP had stayed out of the contest. SP reclaimed it from BJP (the voting percentage, like other Assembly polls previously, in this Lok Sabha constituency, had crossed 60 per cent). The flip tasted good to current mahagathbandhan partners in the region.

    CP Singh, brother of (late) MLA Lokendra Paratap Singh Chauhan, said, “It was due to the work and efforts of then MLA (late Lokendra Singh Chauhan) that Noorpur today has work going on 10 bridges. Azaadi ke baad se is se bada vikaas nahin ho sakaa yahan. (Since Independence, no bigger development work has taken place here)."

    According to him, voters in Noorpur are looking at the policies and work undertaken in Uttar Pradesh and in tandem with the Centre, especially in the area of agriculture. "BJP’s Sankalp Patra has had a good impact. By poll ke dauran OBC groups chhitke huye thhe. Abhi sab saath hain. Sainis bhi (Due to the bypoll, OBC groups had fragmented. Now, they are also united, including Sainis).

    The BJP, as per CP Singh, is approaching contrasts in its campaign. Contrasts between: "Bhaukne (the government that only barks) aur tthokne waali sarkaar (that takes action against adversaries). He was talking in the context of the Majboot sarkar aur Majboor sarkar (smooth government versus a compromised government, in Modi parlance).

    Muslim voters are said to be around six lakh in Nagina. Sitting MP Yashwant Singh swept the Muslim dominated seat in 2014. BSP candidate Girish Chandra is up against a competitor who is at an all-time low in popularity.

    A few things begin to emerge on the ground. The vote for Modi would be for Modi. The vote despite Singh would still be Modi's. Singh has been fielded again to bind the Dalit vote. And Omwati Devi Jatav is expected to nibble into the gathbandhan's Muslim and Dalit vote base.

    A debut made in 1989 has curled into a full circle. Bijnor was its chosen venue then, the vehicle for campaigning was a cycle, the muck-ridden kutcha roads served as the track for an electoral titan. Bijnor continues to be BSP’s buoyant bastion in the gathbandhan's performance in a post-2009 delimitation scenario.

    Mayawati is back to a big test drive in 2019, this time, on Bijnor's fertile terrain nourished by caste advantage on another leaf, which is Nagina. Bijnor voted on 11 April. Nagina, with its five Vidhan Sabha constituencies - Nagina, Najibababad, Noorpur, Nehtaur and Dhampur, votes on 18 April.

    The voters of Bijnor,  who have witnessed a tough contest between the Mahagathbandhan and the BJP are now wondering if Nagina would pull towards becoming a nail biter or see BJP crashing to the weight of the Mahagathbandhan.

    The contest for the BJP in Nagina, is considered to be tougher than what unfolded in Bijnor.

    The Nagina Hindu is not getting bogged down by the number cards yet. In this aspect, it gets chorus from the Muslim voter. Even Muslim voters, when Swarajya visited Nagina, were not calling it out as a clear gathbandhan win. The common reaction from Nagina Muslim voters Swarajya met was this: "Takkar tagdee hai (fight is tough), Bijnor mein BJP nikal sakaey hai, yahan mushkil hai (BJP might still inch ahead in Bijnor, but it won't be possible here").

    In Nagina Vidhan Sabha, religious polarisation has its greys but yet seems stark. The press coverage of Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar Muslim voting patterns - the different versions - reached the Nagina Hindu the next day.

    Deshraj Chaudhary, who runs a tea stall in Guniyapur, at the under-progress NH 74, is angry at the western Uttar Pradesh Hindu. He points at Hindu "lack of unity and pettiness" as the reason for not building up a formidable unity against Muslim unity.

    He watched news on Muslim voting trends in Meerut, Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar and sees the gathbandhan in a comfortable lead in Nagina as well. He says, "Hindu to futkar hai. Kitna bhi kar le sarkar inka...(no matter what the government does for them)..."

    According to many voters in Nagina, tough fights between the gathbandhan and BJP across Uttar Pradesh, especially in the western part, will reflect not only the turn that regional politics has taken, but also indicate "avaam ki soch." Avaam is referred to more in the context of Hindu voters than Muslim.

    The infectious habit of hoping against hope for the Muslim woman’s vote (centering on the Triple Talaq issue) is not restricted to BJP's workers, Hindus and Muslims, alone. It extends to the starry-eyed BJP supporter, too, especially the youth. "Dengi kyon nahin denkhi. Dekhna aap (you watch, they shall vote for BJP)," is the standard reaction from most.

    A prominent political voice in Nagina clears the air. He says, "If Muslim women voters do vote for the BJP at all, in Nagina, it will be miniscule. They will anyway go for it silently, if they do at all."

    The BJP cadre in Najobabad says that it has worked on the "new vote", direct beneficiaries of various Modi policies and schemes, including Pradhan Mantri Ujjwala Yojana, Pradhan Mantri Jan Arogya Yojana, the building of homes and toilets, benefits to farmers and other work done in the last five years. "Modi has not worked for one caste or one community alone. Aisa nahin ki musalman ko hee maan diya ya baniye ko diya," Haji Nishad says.

    The "intact vote bank" which BJP is banking on, may just not be enough to trounce the gathbandhan, express some supporters quietly. Yet, they are looking at the 60:40 ratio, and also at a possible number burst within this ratio. "BJP has the BJP supporter’s vote or the intact vote - the cadre vote, and non-Jatav SC vote. Frankly, the Muslim vote will go en masse to the gathbandhan. Within the Harijans, the BJP is trying its best, but may gain nothing beyond a meagre five to 10 per cent collectively for Harijan and Muslim," says a prominent voice in Nagina politics.

    The BJP cadre is hoping for a good turnout to see numbers bursting and deflecting under the spreadsheet layers and face value. I met Rajiv Agarwal - an experienced BJP worker in Najibabad. He says, "Jab jab polled vote achcha raha hai, tab tab bharatiya Janata party ka candidate jeet taa hai. Modi ji ka jaadu sarr charh bol raha hai janata ke upar. Yahan par bhi. Gareeb ke ghar ghar tak Ujjwala diya, sadkein deen." (Whenever the number of votes polled is high, the BJP candidate wins. Modi’s magic is infectious. Poor homes have been supplied with LPG cylinders and roads have been laid).

    What BJP has gone to campaign with in Nagina, as Agarwal puts it, is remarkable: "Modi helped the poor mother replace troublesome wood fuel with LPG. That’s big. Ayushmaan Bharat too is big stuff. He provided the poor farmer with Rs 2,000 and installments for seeds and manure. The second installment has reached him. Ask them how they value that amount of Rs 2,000 (towards Rs 6,000)."

    The Yogi Adityanath factor will also work here for three reasons - better law and order, improvement in electricity supply, and improvement in agriculture because of efforts of both the Centre and the state. A voter in Nehtaur says, “There were some local heavyweights who were a threat to law and order. They have completely toned down and no one hears about them anymore. Hindu ko koi dikkat nahin hai (no problems for Hindus now).”

    Congress had begun to campaign aggressively by the beginning of last week. Between 2002 and 2012, Omwati Devi (whose name now appears as Omwati Devi Jatav) has been in the Assembly poll fray - all three times against Manoj Kumar Paras, who, like Jatav herself, has been with both BSP and SP during these years. Nagina Nagar Kshetra is a Muslim-dominated area.

    Meanwhile, the echoes of Modi's powerful Moradabad speech reached Nagina last week. There was a message in that speech for the gathbandhan. For sugar mills. For the farmer and the sugarcane grower. For "babua and bua". For caste groups - with a loud mention to the steps being taken towards restoring their dignity, pride, steps towards better living conditions for them. The wheat harvest and Modi's speech coincide.

    Caste and communal overtones

    The Nagina math is simple. For many, it is simple addition. Of three sides (the bigger two in Nagina context are SP and BSP) merging into one, with their numbers and supporters, and the other side, which is the BJP trailing pale in comparison. In Nagina, some are calling it the result of Nagina being a "Muslim bahooli kshetra", others, "communal polarisation", yet others, "the power of two regional parties", and some are even calling it "dirty politics".

    The Nagina election is happening after the Bijnor polls are over. This has impacted how people think about caste and religion. Rinku Bhuyiaar in Guniyapur said that the division of Hindu votes will dent BJP's prospects, but the finer picture is that people of OBC groups are supporting BJP. "The non-Jatav Harijan people in villages around are with BJP. Saini voters are largely with BJP. Jat, majorly, unitedly, are with BJP, so are Brahmins and other upper castes, so is Bhuiyar. We want good for the nation. It is simple. We think bigger."

    Abhishek Yadav, a first-time voter sitting dapper in a "Namo" T shirt is teased as "Mulayam Singh Yadav's bhateeja" by elder BJP ground workers. Are you? I ask him. He laughs, "Youth is with Modi, they don’t look at who is Jat and who is Yadav. They look at what is good for the nation. Everyone is together in supporting Modi.

    He recalls the seasoned mention to the suggested "AJGR" unity in rural western Uttar pradesh - Ahir, Jat, Gurjar, Rajput unity - which eventually went mainstream under Chaudhary Charan Singh.

    Surendra Singh Prajapati in Nehtaur lays out a rough sketch of the BJP support base outside its cadre. He says, “Jaat, Saini, Tyagi, Chauhan, Baniya, Pajapati, Kashyap, Brahman, Pal and some others - these are all with BJP, in our area.”

    Deshraj Chaudhary becomes emotional when he talks about the frittering support to BJP led NDA II and Modi in Muslim dominated Nagina. He adds, "Is sarkar se koi nuksaan hai kisee ko (has this government harmed anyone)?"

    According to Yadav, caste is no issue in this election. "Rashtravaad is the main issue."  Sanjay Saini, Shobhit Tyagi and Vikrant Cahudhary - all BJP ground workers reveal how the issue, according to them, is playing out on the ground. They say, "Jo rashtra ki mukhyadhara se na judne waale loag hain, wo Modi ko hataane ka prayas kar rahe hain."

    Members I met in BJP's workers' unit in Najibabad believe that "the gathbandhan is going to fail in Western Uttar Pradesh." According to Rajiv Agarwal, 2009 was a "different election". It was fought on local issues. "I want to tell you as a party worker. We were not afraid of the gathbandhan then, we are not afraid of it now."

    While Raeen and Nishad are putting their efforts, Ashu Vishnoi, another local BJP worker, counts in the "dhobi community factor".  "You cannot ignore this factor, too, in a tough fight. They will go with BJP."

    Abdul Khalid and Muhammad Shakir, two shopkeepers in Nagina bazaar area see the Mahagathbandhan as the heavier side in the contest. "Congress is campaigning more often in this area though," Khalid says. Shakir feels that the local Samajwadi and Congress workers have done a good job in establishing facilities like establishing a park and roads in the town.

    Islamuddin, an elderly man in Akbarabad shows his cards without displaying them.  "nothing is decided as of now. We will go with the wind and decide in the last hours. But we will go where others like us are. We won't let the vote go waste."

    A popular businessman says on the condition of anonymity, "I had to pretend as if I am not hearing, but some people, who are not exactly BJP haters, were using such terrible language for Modi, despite all the good work he has done."

    The support dynamics could all flip in a night, believes Rajpal Singh Saini, of Nehtaur. “General and OBC will go towards BJP. What did we get so many years from Congress and other parties? How many seats has RLD fought and how will their gathbandhan work, has the gathbandhan worked? People will be compelled to think. Even the caste vote is going to Modi.”

    A small farmer from Bhimpura on Nehtaur Road refuses to reveal his name. He tells me that “gathbandhan is going strong in villages”

    Surendra Singh Prajapati of Nehtaur says, “The support from Jat, Saini, Tyagi, Chauhan, Baniya, Pajapati, Kashyap, Brahman and Pal will do wonders if the non-Jatav Harijan vote breaks away from gathbandhan to BJP, or even Congress.”

    Islamuddin from Shehbaajpur says that “both Gathbandhan and BJP are competing to be ahead. He says that had Yashwant Singh been a good sitting MP, he would have voted for BJP without weighing communal factors." Others surrounding him smirk.

    "Wrong candidate, right party" - It Is Vote For "Modi - the Upar Wala"

    The Nagina Vidhan Sabha Hindu businessman makes for, roughly, a disgruntled lot, but they are supporting "that one man" "Narendra Modi". This is on the surface. You don't even need to scratch the surface to know that both Hindu, and Muslim voters (in spite of their indifference to BJP in Nagina), unitedly, feel that Yashwant Singh has "been the wrong candidate" posed by the "right party" for Hindus.

    According to Hindu shopkeepers, a fresh candidate from the reserved seat would have definitely helped BJP steer ahead. "Har haal mein. Hundred per cent nikalti BJP aage agar aisa hota."

    An elderly man in Nagina main bazar speaks on the bad choice candidate. He says on the condition of anonymity, "Paanch saal mein aa ke phira, Nagina mein jhagde hue, ek baar bhi (uses cuss word) aaya nahin. Humein badee seat se matlab hai, candidate se matlab nahin, Hinduon ko koi poochhta nahin, bas Modi ji ko vote jayega jo jayega (In five years, he has come only now. Nagina has witnessed fights, but not even once has he come here. We are only bothered only about the constituency, not the candidate. Who asks about us Hindus. The vote is only for Modi.)

    The elders sitting next to Sunil Kumar, an entrepreneur in Nagina main bazaar area, seem to have code named Modi as "upar wala". "We are all voting for Modi. Otherwise, it is pretty evident what we think about the candidate. No one cares about the Hindu voter of Nagina, especially of the voter belonging to the general category."

    Nepal Singh, who works as a labourer in Shehbaajpur, lists what could have been done in the last five years: "So much! Look at what has been done in other towns in Uttar Pradesh. There is no industry here. Nothing has come up to absorb and employ the local youth. The industries and mills on Bijnor road refuse to hire local youth. Where do we go? We go to industrial areas in Gurgaon (Gurugram) and Haridwar and return after failing to survive on a meagre salary of Rs 4,200. There is no development here, no employment. It was Singh's job to establish both as Nagina MP."

    The upper berth definitely has been reserved for Modi in symbolic reference. Someone calls him "Upar wala", someone calls him the “top guy”.

    Why do people still want to vote for BJP? Many say: "For Modi. No one cares about the candidate. Modi will run the government. Only he can. Please understand the predicament of the Hindu.”

    The Curious Flip Side of Gathbandhan Dynamics

    "Aaj Gathbandhan hai, kal tootega bhi" - this is something I wasn't expecting to hear. The Nagina ground did throw open a surprise.

    In the 2012 Vidhan Sabha polls, Samajwadi Party's Manoj Kumar Paras defeated Omwati Devi, who was with the BSP then. He had secured 839,997 votes against her 57,451 votes.

    Today, Paras is popular among gathbandan supporters. Some gathbandan supporters Swarajya met say that had SP been representing Gathbandan instead of BSP, Paras would definitely be the man. "It would be a one-sided election had SP been here instead of BSP with Paras as a solid candidate. Though gathbandan is still the choice for many, Paras's absence might make them look elsewhere." Where elsewhere? "Many don't find BJP a bad choice in such a scenario. It is a Hindu Party after all."

    Sarvinder Kumar, sitting outside a bank in Akbarabad, pores over the gathbandhan voter trends in the sun. He says, "Soch hai apni. Girish Chandra and Yashwant will roughly play on the field between 600/800-1100. Out of 800, roughly, in each village, 200 will go to gathbandhan and 600 to BJP. I can say this for at least three villages I am directly familiar with. Women go as per 'biraadari' trends."

    It could all flip in a night, believes Rajpal Singh Saini, of Nehtaur. “General and OBC will go towards BJP. What did we get so many years from Congress and other parties?" These questions, if at all, will circulate within the small portions of Hindu voters in the five constituencies. "The mood against Singh is the same even in Noorpur, but Modi's work could impact voter and make him think on the aspect of stability in Nagina, and western Uttar Pradesh."

    "No one cares for Nagina's Hindu, but vote is for Modi"

    If you meet a disgruntled voter in Nagina, there is a billowing chance that he is a Hindu. The Nagina Hindu is angry. But he is angry enough, just enough angry, to still continue voting for the "Hindu party".

    Here are some reasons for silent anger, disappointment, disgruntlement and a bit of grudge: indifference from the sitting MP, the anticipation of the outcome of Muslim voting patterns in the gathbandhan scenario, over lack of facilities, lack of political solace in the local context, and reservation.

    BJP, clearly, seems to be lucky to have Modi at the top of BJP's electoral campaign and as a PM candidate. Their disgruntlement screams like steam when water falls on a tava - all in Modi's support.

    A veteran at Nagina bazar area says, "This is a reserved (SC) seat. We understand that. But reservation must go. Nagina was doing so well, things have completely changed now. Angrezi shaasan mein district headquarter thha Nagina. Yeh haal hain iske. Sab majboori hai. Gathbandhan seems more powerful (During English rule, Nagina was a district headquarters. Now look at its pitiable state.)

    "Nobody bothers to enquire about the Hindu, especially the general category Hindu, says Himanshu Chauhan, a young shopkeeper in the constituency says in retrospect.

    According to Chauhan, people such as him think of the nation and vote, but the effort and emotion has no takers. "Did you vote for us? This is the standard reaction we general category people get when we go to MLAs and MPs," he adds.

    Most of these voters show propensity for the notion that Nagina Vidhan Sabha has been severely neglected while Najibabad and Dhampur have seen development and attention given to the boosting of trade and business. "It is disheartening to see how Hindus of the Nagina Vidhan Sabha, their need for good educational institutions, doctors, and other facilities have been completely neglected. Par Modi ji jo to jitana hee hoga. Hum to unmeed hee kar sakte hain,  vote kar sakte hain (But we have to make Modi win at any cost. At best, we can have faith. We can at least vote)," Kumar adds.

    BJP's Muslim Supporter And Worker's Stubborn Hope for Muslim Vote

    Mohammad Sharik, a resident of Qazi Sarai I met in Nagina Vidhan Sabha bazar area tells Swarajya that BSP is trying to make its impact on voters in his area. "Phool hai idhar. Par takkar poori hai (lotus is dominating here, but the clash is tough)."

    According to Sharik, BJP might reap some gains from direct beneficiaries of Modi's policies and schemes, including the building of houses and toilets for the poor". "BJP does have supporters in Muslims here," he adds.

    Haji Nishad, a BJP worker from Mohalla Qazi Sarai draws the gender line in Nagina's Muslim vote. According to him, he is expecting Muslim women to vote for Modi. "Men will not."

    What do men in his community and area do for a living?  "Yahaan mazdoor mehenati tapke ke log zyada hain hamare yahan. Bahut se parivaron se Saudi Arabia mein kaam kar rahe hain. Maaldaar parivar to ek aadh hee hoga."  he says. According to him, they are all aware of Sushma Swaraj's good work.

    Nishad tells Swarajya (over the phone) that he often tells his community something while he is campaigning. It is about the current governments - at the Centre and state. "Aisee sarkar baad mein dhoodhte reh jaoge".

    For his part, Qayoom Raeen, who represents BJP Alpasankhyak Morcha in Bijnor and Nagina, is spending measured time slots with people in his community, mostly direct beneficiaries of Modi's policies and schemes. He says, "We did it in Bijnor. We are doing the same in Nagina."

    Nishad believes that if Muslims chooses to not vote for Modi in Nagina, it would not make a difference to Modi. He refers to the notions among voters he spends time with. "Modi is fighting to win and become the prime minister once again. Modi ko na jitaa kar wo apne haq mein bura karenge. Ek hee baat ko daohoraate rehewe hain (they keep repeating one thing). Ye nahin dekhte ki Congress ne kitna nuksaan kiya hai hamara," he adds with a tone of frustration.

    Will Raeen be able to create a touch and go or a trickle? He adds, "what I can tell you at this point is that there is a marked difference in attitude in people from our community towards Modi. Earlier they would shunt out any topic on him. Now they not only listen, but also join and support."

    Raeen disagrees from the general perception that Mahagathban is a threat to BJP's prospects in Nagina. "The fear is being made out to be intense. It is not. Kamzor hai gathbandhan. We are taking the issue of better living conditions and better environment for women to voters."

    Something must be wrong with the region's polity, perhaps, that both Hindus and Muslims are asked the same question. Mohammed Yaqoob, an elderly man in Najibabad contitunecy says, "When we meet former MLAs, they ask, 'did you vote for us?"

    Surender Pal, a voter at Akbarabad, doesn't care about what others think. "I know that there is just one party for the Hindus and for the Hindu cause. My vote will go for that party."

    In 2017 Assembly polls, Najibabad, Rajiv Agarwal had trailed in his contest against SP's Muslim candidate - (37.81 against 36.88 per cent vote share). Omwati Devi (Nagina - SC seat), then with BJP secured nearly 33 per cent vote share against Paras (nearly 37 per cent), Dhampur, Nehtaur (SC) and Noorpur had seen BJP steer ahead with 42 per cent , 41 per cent and 39 per cent vote share.

    More than 15 lakh voters will vote in Nagina. Chauhans and Rajputs together are said to be around 1.5 lakh in strength, Jats, nearly a lakh, Sainis, too, a lakh and Dalits, nearly 3.5 lakh as per rough estimates.

    The helix: On the ground, support for Mahagathbandhan definitely seems heavier. BJP's destiny in Nagina would depend on the Dalit vote and a few other small factors in Mahagathbandhan dynamics. Hindu voters are noticeably looking at Meerut, Bijnor and Muzaffarnagar trends, especially the Muslim vote factor on these seats. They are expecting a "mood" to tilt and burst the math.

    If two plus two does become five in Nagina, eventually, as the BJP hopes it would, it would be for Modi's work and policies and Hindu consolidation behind him. Bijnor would watch this. I, with Bijnor.

    This report is part of Swarajya's 50 Ground Stories Project - an attempt to throw light on issues and constituencies the old media largely refuses to engage. You can support this initiative by sponsoring as little as Rs 2,999. Click here for more details.

    Sumati Mehrishi is Senior Editor, Swarajya. She tweets at @sumati_mehrishi 

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