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Gujarat elections: Competition to get Muslim votes, Congress in trouble for the first time

Ahmedabad (Gujarat). The race to garner Muslim votes in the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat seems to be intensifying as the minority community now has the option of several ‘secular’ parties to vote in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-ruled state. In the earlier elections, the Congress was considered the only major contender for the Muslim vote in Gujarat, but this time the main opposition party is facing a tough fight from smaller parties to woo the minority voters.

The challenge before the Congress is from All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM), Arvind Kejriwal’s Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) and some other parties. In the last assembly elections, only three Muslim MLAs had won and all three belonged to the Congress. However, this number was better than the 2012 assembly elections when only two Muslim MLAs won. Muslims constitute about 11 per cent of the state’s total population of 6.5 crore and have a significant presence in about 25 assembly constituencies.

Congress engaged in getting votes of minority community

The BJP, which has been ruling Gujarat for more than two decades, is not considered the choice of Muslim voters. The Congress had given tickets to six Muslim candidates in the state in 2017. BJP usually does not give ticket to any Muslim candidate. Earlier this year, the Congress had appointed its MLA from Wankaner, Mohd Peerzada, as the party’s working president, as an exercise to garner votes from the minority community. Congress’ Gujarat unit president Jagdish Thakor reiterated then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh’s statement in 2006 that minorities should be the “first claim” on the country’s resources to keep Muslim voters aligned with the party. Thakor’s remarks in July were criticized by right-wing organizations and accused him of doing politics of appeasement for votes.

AIMIM, Aam Aadmi Party’s alternative made political ruckus interesting

AIMIM chief and Lok Sabha member Asaduddin Owaisi frequently visits Gujarat to woo Muslim voters. His party had said that it will contest 30 seats in Gujarat and has also announced six candidates. AAP is working silently to woo this community. He had recently organized a roadshow of Punjab Chief Minister Bhagwant Mann in the minority-dominated Dariyapur area. AAP has so far announced three Muslim candidates. Mujahid Nafees, convener of the non-political organization Minorities Coordination Committee, said, “Till the last elections held in 2017, Muslims did not have a choice in Gujarat as there was a contest between the two parties (Congress and BJP). But now in the 2022 elections, more political parties have come here. A multi-cornered electoral contest is a good thing in a democracy.

Gujarat’s attitude of taking Muslims lightly will end

Mujahid Nafees said, ‘This will end the attitude of taking the Muslims of Gujarat lightly, which used to happen till now. People will have more options. In this situation every political party will come to us and ask for our votes. Congress MLA from Dariyapur Gyasuddin Sheikh believes that Muslim voters in Gujarat will be with the Congress. He said, ‘The situation is different in Gujarat. Hindu votes are required for candidates belonging to the minority community to win seats other than the one in Jamalpur-Khadia. Muslims constitute 65 percent of the local population in Jamalpur-Khadia.

Truth of Aam Aadmi Party has come to the fore: Gyasuddin Sheikh

My seat in Dariyapur has 40 percent Muslim population. If I do not get votes from Hindus then I will not be able to win so AIMIM candidates will not get Hindu votes in the state. Shaikh said, BJP does not give us any ticket. AAP’s truth has come to the fore as people have come to know that Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal is not ready to speak on any issue of minority community. He wants to be a true Hindu more than the BJP. That’s why AIMIM and you are not an option for the minority community here, he said.

Mixed reactions for AIMIM and AAP

AIMIM’s Gujarat unit chief Sabeer Kabaliwala told PTI that the party will field 30 candidates in the state. “We have already declared the names of six candidates. There is a good atmosphere for AIMIM here in Gujarat and we will win seats here. At the same time, AAP’s candidate from Jambusar, Sajid Rihan said, ‘This is the first time that a national party has given ticket to a Muslim from Jambusar.’ He said that AAP is very popular among the minority community in the state. He said that the AIMIM organization is very weak here and people will vote only for AAP.

Tags:, Congress, Gujarat Elections

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