Bangalore: In the newly constituted 16th Legislative Assembly of Karnataka, the representation of Muslims in the state has marginally improved from seven to nine MLAs. Despite a proportion of more than 13 percent of the total population of Karnataka, Muslims never get their due share in the state’s highest law-making body. Only in the 1978 assembly election, 18 Muslim candidates have romped the home, and one of them in the bye-election. This is the highest tally of Muslim MLAs and the lowest was seven in the previous assembly of 2018.
All nine Muslim candidates won on the Congress tickets which fielded 15. In contrast, the powerful Lingayat community always gets the lion’s share in the 224-member state assembly. In the new assembly, their strength is 51 while they constitute around 14 percent of the total population. 37 of the 46 Lingayat candidates put forth by Congress were successful. Only 15 of the BJP’s 69 community candidates who received nominations were able to win.
Muslims are slightly more represented in the new assembly than they were in the last assembly. Seven Muslims were elected in the 2018 election. Compared to the 11 Muslim MLAs that were elected in 2013, it was a significant decline. Of the 211 candidates the JD(S) ran, 23 were Muslims, but none were elected. As its policy, BJP did not give tickets to Muslim candidates.
Muslim votes played a key role in the Congress’s decisive win which accounted for 13 to 17 percent of the total voters. They helped at least 67 to 72 Congress candidates to win the elections. It is said 88 percent of Muslim votes went to the Congress kitty. Five-time MLA Zameer Ahmed Khan was made the cabinet minister.
In Gulbarga city, after a close race against Chandrakanth Patil, a Lingayat youth activist running for the BJP, the incumbent Congress MLA from the Gulbarga North constituency, Kaneez Fatima the only Muslim woman candidate filed by the Congress retained her seat. She faced a challenge from BJP and 9 Muslim rivals. She won the seat by a margin of 2,712 votes. Fatima, 63, received 80,973 votes with a 45.28% vote share as opposed to Patil’s 78,261 votes with a 43.76% vote share.
When her husband Qamarul Islam, a minister and six-term local MLA, passed away a few months before the 2018 Assembly elections, Fatima was propelled from her domestic position into the spotlight of public life.
Besides Fatima, other Congress victorious candidates are Rahim Khan won in Bidar by a margin of 10,659 votes; UT Khader Fareed in Mangalore by 22,977 votes; Tanveer Sait in Narasimharaja (Mysuru) by 31,091 votes; Asif (Raju) Sait in Belagavi North by 4,551 votes; Rizwan Arshad in Shivajinagar by 23,198 votes; B Z Zameer Ahmed Khan in Chamrajpet by 53,983 votes; H A Iqbal Hussain in Ramanagaram by 10,846 votes; and N A Haris in Shanti Nagar by 7,070 votes. All of them have been re-elected, except Asif (Raju) Sait and Iqbal Hussein, who are entering the Assembly for the first time.
Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM contested two seats and secured only 0.02 percent of the votes polled. The Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) met a similar fate as none of its 16 candidates could open their accounts.
Despite the BJP leaders’ extremely provocative statements and the Bommai government’s anti-Muslim measures, they have shown exemplary patience and composure. The Congress appears to have benefited from the Muslim vote’s consolidation. The party has pledged to reinstate the 4% Muslim quota that the former BJP government abolished.