Prime Minister Atal Behari Vajpayee's assertion his Bharatiya Janata Party did not need the Muslim vote to win elections was an admission the Bharatiya Janata Party's campaign to seek support from the country's 170 million Muslims had failed miserably, analysts said. 'The anti-BJP stance of Muslims is improper but the BJP can win elections even if they vote against it', Mr Vajpayee said at an election rally on Tuesday. The BJP could be in danger of losing its dominance of the politically crucial state of Uttar Pradesh in today's final round of local assembly elections. Counting begins on Sunday, and results should be clear within hours. But exit polls from two earlier rounds show the regional socialist Samajwadi Party running neck-and-neck with the BJP. The polls are seen as a test of the BJP's popularity amid India's military standoff with Pakistan. Though Muslims in India do not vote as a bloc, they have agreed on one thing: not to vote for the BJP, which many see as an 'anti-Muslim' party. The BJP had tried to reverse this image, but with little success, analysts said. Commentator Praful Bidwai said the 'so-called initiative to woo Muslims was bound to flop because it was insincere and manipulative'. In a dramatic overture to Muslims in September 2000, then BJP president Bangaru Laxman - a protege of Mr Vajpayee - said Muslims were 'the flesh of our flesh and the blood of our blood'. Observers were stunned by the change in rhetoric after decades of Muslim-bashing and propaganda from the BJP against India's largest minority community. But Mr Laxman - who was sacked last year after being filmed accepting bribes from fictitious arms dealers - admitted that according to his party's calculations, it was impossible for the BJP to come to power without the support of the Muslims. He and other senior leaders, including Mr Vajpayee, explained the election results of 1998 and 1999 showed the BJP's vote-bank was stagnant, forcing it to enter into alliances with several political parties to form the National Democratic Alliance Government. They realised that winning over Muslim voters - who are a deciding factor in as many as 100 parliamentary constituencies - could make a big difference. Nonetheless, Muslim leader and former member of Parliament Syed Shahabuddin said Mr Vajpayee had read the Muslim mood correctly. 'If the Muslims, comprising 17 per cent of the population, are still united against one political party, it is the BJP. Despite the BJP's apparent volte face, it did not change its policy towards Muslims', he said. 'Even today, it denies equal opportunities to Muslims, whom it continues to regard as one of the three enemies of a Hindu India - the other two being Christians and the communists.' Mr Shahabuddin said Mr Vajpayee alienated Muslims when he said last year that a campaign by Hindu hardliners to build a temple at the site of the razed Babri Masjid mosque in Ayodhya was a 'reflection of national sentiment'. The 16th century mosque was pulled down on December 6, 1992, by Hindu fanatics claiming the site as the birthplace of their mythological god Ram. Mr Shahabuddin said Muslims were personally disillusioned with Mr Vajpayee because he had not cracked down on hardline Hindu groups that have threatened to start building the Ram temple next month.