Rajasthan Assembly – Elections Fewer Muslims in Fray
Jaipur: Polling for the 200-seat Rajasthan Assembly will be held on December 7. But both major contenders for power i.e., Congress and the BJP, have fielded fewer Muslim candidates in the fray. The Congress had fielded 16 candidates in 2013. This time, it has nominated one less, 15 Muslims. The BJP, which had given tickets to four Muslims last time, has fielded only one candidate, Yunus Khan, who is facing Sachin Pilot in Tonk.
There are at least 32 seats in the state where Muslims constitute 25 to 32 per cent of the voters. Reckoning of the past elections reveals that Muslims have won from around 38 different constituencies in the state if data from all elections is put together. In 2013, none from the Congress could make it to the Assembly while two of the four were elected from among the BJP nominees. The two winners from the BJP were Yunus Khan and Azimur Rahman. The two losers were Saghir Ahmed and Aleem Tanwar.
While the BJP is open in its antipathy against Muslims and will not field Muslims in proportion of their population, the Congress pursues a covert policy of nominating its stalwarts from Muslim-dominated constituencies while Muslim candidates of the party will be fielded from areas where their community numbers do not matter much. This policy has the obvious benefit of harvesting Muslim votes for the benefit of the stalwarts and ensuring the defeat of Muslim candidates from constituencies where they do not figure sizably.
This is apparent from a cursory glance over the Congress’ choice of leaders and constituencies. For instance, Mr. Ashok Gehlot is generally pitted from Saradarpura, where Muslim voters number around 50,000. This constituency had elected Ahmed Bakhshanda prior to 1998. Even the late Chief Minister of Rajasthan, Barkatullah Khan was elected repeatedly from this area.
Similarly, in Sikar, where Muslim voters number around 72,000, the Congress has never nominated a Muslim. In Kota, Muslim voters account for over 50,000, but Congress has been continuously nominating Shanthi Dhariwal or his father.
Even Congress chief ministerial hopeful Sachin Pilot has chosen Tonk for the contest. Being the formerly princely estate of the Nawab of Tonk, this constituency has around 65,000 Muslim voters. Last time Zakia Imam was fielded from here. She lost. She was denied the ticket by the party this time.
Jhunjhunu is a constituency where Muslim electorate make up around a quarter of the total. The Congress has never fielded a Muslim from here. It was from this constituency that Mahir Azad of Janata Dal had been elected in 1990, defeating the Congress’ veteran Shishram Ola.