SAHARANPUR/BIJNOR/KAIRANA/MUZZAFARNAGAR, April 11 -- The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) is hoping to retain its eight Lok Sabha seats in Western Uttar Pradesh that will go to polls in the first phase of Lok Sabha elections on Thursday. It faces a stiff challenge from the arithmetically formidable Samajwadi Party (SP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) and Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) alliance, which is banking on the sizeable chunk of concentrated Muslims voters in the region.

In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, the BJP won Saharanpur, Kairana, Muzaffarnagar, Bijnor, Meerut, Baghpat, Ghaziabad and Gautam Buddh Nagar in the aftermath of communal polarisation in the region. The 2013 Muzaffarnagar violence triggered the polarisation.

The BJP swept the ...