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Haryana polls: For Zakir Hussain, its a test whether Nuh voters approve his joining BJP or not

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Chandigarh, Oct 17: The electoral battle in Haryana's Nuh assembly constituency, a part of Muslim-dominated Mewat region, would be keenly watched as it has many diamensions to it.

Firstly, it is a Muslim majority constituency from where no non-Muslim candidate has ever won. Secondly, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has never won from this seat. Even during the Lok Sabha elections in April-May this year, the BJP fared badly in all three Assembly segments of Mewat region. The Mewat region has three seats -- Nuh, Punhana and Ferozepur Jhirka.

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The sitting MLA from Nuh is Zakir Hussain who won in 2014 on an INLD ticket. What makes the contest interesting this time around is that Hussain has now switched side and joined the BJP. He joined the BJP in June this year.

Haryana assembly elections: BJP's 'non-Jat' masterstroke in 2014

Hussain may have taken a big risk by joining the saffron party as it is well known that Muslims, generally, avoid voting for the BJP. Nuh, from where Hussain is contesting this time, is a Muslim dominated area.

But we must consider that Hussain is not a novice and comes from a political family. Both his father and grandfather were prominent politicians from Mewat region. Being a sitting MLA, Hussain must have had a good reason to believe that he can win from Nuh despite switching over the BJP.

Soon after switching over to the BJP in June, Hussain had said that he impressed by the style of functioning of the Khattar government. He said that whatever issues relating to Mewat region's development he had raised in the Vidhan Sabha, Khattar had accepted them all and launched development projects.

[Haryana: Will 'Modi wave' blur caste lines and see Khattar through]

BJP supporter Irfan Ali, said development was the major issue and Mewat will vote for the ruling party keeping this in mind. Even the BJP has been claiming since their thmping win in 2014 that Modi's development pitch has appealed to Muslims and they are rising above community/religion lines to vote for the BJP.

The Congress, however, accused Hussain of "betraying" Muslims by switching over to the BJP. At a rally on Monday, the party's Punhana candidate Mohammad Ilyas hit out at Hussain and even gestured with a shoe in his hand on the dias, saying people will give the boot to those who stand with "supporters of lynching".

On the ground, however, concern over incidents of mob lynching and security of the community appears to be the dominant issue. The lynching cases of Pehlu Khan and Junaid have become a regular feature in the speeches during opposition rallies for the upcoming Haryana assembly elections. Congress candidate from Nuh Aftab Ahmed said, "We have stayed in the country on the assurance of Mahatma Gandhi. We will not let Godse succeed as the country is ours too."

Sabir Ali, a Congress supporter, told reporters that security is the most important issue for the people of this district. "People are saddened by incidents of lynching. This is an election issue and people in the area will vote keeping this in mind. Economy and developmental issues are important, but they will matter only if one is alive," he said.

Reports say that development has taken place in Nuh in the last five years which includes setting up of a dental college and a Unani Medical College. Around 12 schools have been upgraded, 6 health and wellness centres set up. The Gurgaon-Alwar railway line, making Nuh engineering college a university, expansion of a local lake and the Mewat canal are some of the developmental issues high on the people's agenda.

Hussain has a tough battle at hands and his win would prove a lot things. For one, it may dispel the notion that Muslims 'never' vote for the BJP.

Why BJP is facing a tough battle in Haryana's Thanesar?

Haryana assembly elections: Khattar aiming at second term:

In 2014, the Modi wave blurred the caste lines, the BJP won 47 of the 90 seats in the last Hayana assembly elections. In the Lok Sabha elections held earlier this year, the BJP swept Haryana riding the Modi wave 2.0. Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar will contest from Karnal. The RSS man was a surprise pick for the chief minister's post in 2014 The BJP roughly has three advantages - the party has managed to combine non-Jat votes, the opposition is divided and bickering, and just a few months ago, the Modi-led party swept the state.

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