Ajay Umat | TNN
Ahmedabad: The ruling BJP had not fielded a single Muslim candidate yet it managed to win in 11 out of the 18 constituencies where Muslim voters are in substantial numbers and could have swung the results in the recently held assembly elections in Gujarat.
A detailed analysis of the data shows soft Hindutva was a factor and that there was polarization on communal lines in these constituencies. Muslims did not vote for BJP in significant numbers. Congress benefited more in these seats but eventually voting on commun a l p at t e r n only went to work in favour of BJP.
In Gujarat, 66 assembly constituencies have Muslim population varying from 10% to over 60%. BJP won 40 of these seats, the Congress 25 and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) grabbed one. The percentage works out to 60% for BJP and 40% for Congress. When compared to the data for all 182 seats in the state, BJP got 63% and the Congress 34%. Here BJP is at a slight loss.
BJP claims that it had won in 24 constituencies which had more than 15% of Muslim voters, which was a gain of six seats over the 2007 elections. The Congress said it had polled more votes in the Muslim dominated constituencies, as evident from the data.
The Congress gave tickets to six Muslims but only two could win. In Jamalpur-Khadia constituency, which has 61.5% Muslims voters, there was a triangular contest involving two Muslim candidates. The Muslim votes got split here, giving BJP an additional seat in the process.
Vejalpur constituency has 90,000 Muslim voters, who are mainly concentrated in Juhapura and Sarkhej areas. Congress c a n d i d at e M u r t u z a K h a n Pathan lost from this constituency with a margin of over 40,000 votes. There was polarization on communal lines and he failed to get votes from other communities. This is in contrast to Javed Peerzada’s performance in Wankaner who won capturing 39% of all votes polled. Interestingly, the percentage of Muslims in this constituency is just 23.
The percentage of Muslims in Bharuch is 38. However, Congress candidates here polled only 35.5%. BJP won this seat by polling 59.5% of the votes. This indicates that Muslims here had voted for BJP but only marginally. Amir Ali Lodhiya in Bhuj managed to get 39% of the votes though Muslims are just 24% of the population there. Yet he lost by a margin of 8,973 votes due to an independent candidate. The Congress could win Dani Limda and Dariapur seats due to non-division of Muslim votes.