How Did the Muslim Vote?

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How Did the Muslim Vote?

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Despite being the target of the Prime Minister’s public speeches and facing continuous discrimination, the Muslim voter has voted in support of saving the Constitution and India’s democracy.

Recently results have put to rest all speculations arising from exit polls that predicted between 350 to 415 seats for the Bharatiya Janata Party-led National Democratic Alliance (NDA) and between 96 to 182 for the INDIA bloc parties. However, the final figures diverged significantly from these predictions. The INDIA bloc not only established a united opposition to the NDA but also prevented the BJP from attaining a majority on its own, let alone the much-advertised target of 370 seats.

The combined efforts of political leaders such as Sonia Gandhi, Mallikarjun Kharge, Lalu Prasad Yadav, Sharad Pawar, M.K. Stalin, and Arvind Kejriwal have contributed to this outcome, exposing the myth of a “strong” government. Another evident trend is the unwavering faith of the common voter in the Constitution and Indian democracy, particularly the Muslim voter, who has been historically blamed for voting on religious lines.

This election marks a significant shift since 1952, as Indian Muslims voted not on religious affiliations but to save the Constitution and democracy. In Uttar Pradesh, several Muslim-majority constituencies saw non-Muslim candidates from the INDIA bloc, yet received consolidated support from Muslim voters, demonstrating a break from past patterns where votes were split among multiple Muslim candidates.

Historically, Indian Muslims have been underrepresented in Parliament, despite constituting over 14% of the population. Proportionately, there should be around 75 Muslim MPs, but the

numbers have been much lower in the past six elections. This election has seen a massive consolidation of the Muslim vote, even at the cost of reduced representation, as Muslims voted strategically to support the INDIA bloc.

Three Key Takeaways
1. Shift from Religious Voting: The Muslim voter’s disapproval of religious issues or Muslim faces in the fray is evident. The focus has been on saving the Constitution rather than on the number of Muslim candidates. The success of the INDIA bloc owes much to Muslim voters casting their votes on positive lines, disregarding religious considerations.

2. Support Amid Discrimination: Despite being targeted by the Prime Minister’s speeches and facing continuous discrimination, Muslim voters supported the Constitution and democracy. They remained non-reactive to provocations, voting en masse to uphold India’s democratic legacy.

3. Political Consciousness: The decisive and consolidated voting reflects growing political consciousness among Muslims, driven by events like the Citizenship (Amendment) Act, the Uniform Civil Code in Uttarakhand, the hijab issue in Karnataka, and debates on essential religious practices. This voter awareness is expected to increase in future elections, as the community, once seen as indifferent, actively participates in democracy. Muslim-dominated areas have seen high turnouts, solidifying their trust in the democratic process.

The Muslim voter has played a crucial role in this democratic process, setting aside religious biases to support a greater cause. This emerging pattern indicates a more aware and conscientious stakeholder in India’s democratic functioning.

(Fuzail Ahmad Ayyubi is a Supreme Court Advocate-on-Record. Extract from