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TIMES NEWS NETWORK
Ahmedabad: BJP came to power in the state for the first time in 1995, but the party has never given an assembly poll ticket to any minority-community candidate. In fact, barring the 2011 nagarpalika elections, no Muslim candidate has ever been fielded by BJP.
In 1995, the sole minority-community candidate who won the elections was Usmangani Devidwala, who ran as an independent. But 1998, when Keshubhai Patel was seeking re-election after the Shankersinh Vaghela revolt, five minority-community candidates were elected.
Of the five, four were Congress MLAs. But after the post-Godhra riots, only three minority-community candidates could win the elections. In the present assembly, there are four minoritycommunity MLAs, and all are from Congress. Congress has appointed Iqbal Patel from Vagra as its chief whip, and the other MLAs are Pirzada Mahmadjavid Abdulmutlib (Wakaner); Shaikh Mohammad Faruk (Kalupur); and Gyasuddin Shaikh (Shahpur). Congress officials said that the four MLAs could have taken on the government over minority issues. But they could not do so, probably because they were not supported adequately by their seniors. Only in the 2012 assembly did they manage to raise their concerns.
“The Congress leadership did not focus on minority issues,” said a minority-community MLA. “In the assembly there was a trend — if you want to discuss any particular matter, you asked at least 40-odd questions on it, but not a single question relating to minorities was given such a preference.” The MLA said that questions on Vibrant summits and power were asked 40 times on one single day. “But for minorities, neither BJP nor Congress has shown any sadbhavana,” he said. A senior leader of BJP said that the party had given tickets to minority-community candidates in the recently concluded nagarpalika, panchayat, and corporation elections. And for the first time, BJP leaders held a rally through the Muslim-dominated Juhapura area after the party fielded former IPS officer AI Saiyed from the Sarkhej ward.
Modi had said after the 2010 elections to local bodies: “The most surprising aspect of the polls is that over 100 Muslim candidates of BJP have won at various levels today. This shows the acceptance of BJP even in minority community of the state.”