35 Muslim Candidates in Gujarat Assembly Elections; Congress Abstains from Fielding Any

In Gujarat's Lok Sabha polls, 35 Muslim candidates stand, but the Congress breaks tradition by fielding none. The BSP presents one candidate in Gandhinagar, where BJP's Amit Shah contests. Despite fielding Muslim candidates in the past, the Congress has not done so this time due to seat arrangements with the AAP. Most Muslim candidates run independently or for lesser-known parties.

PTI | Ahmedabad | Updated: 05-05-2024 11:26 IST | Created: 05-05-2024 11:26 IST
35 Muslim Candidates in Gujarat Assembly Elections; Congress Abstains from Fielding Any
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Thirty-five Muslim candidates are contesting the Lok Sabha polls in Gujarat but the Congress has this time broken its tradition and not fielded a single person from the community in the state.

The Congress has argued that the Bharuch Lok Sabha seat, from where it used to traditionally field a Muslim candidate, has this time gone to the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) as part of the seat sharing agreement among the opposition INDIA bloc constituents.

Among national parties, only the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) has fielded a Muslim candidate from Gandhinagar for the May 7 polls in the state.

The BSP had also fielded a Muslim candidate in the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from Panchmahal.

This time, 35 Muslim candidates are in the fray for the Lok Sabha polls to be held in 25 out of the 26 seats in Gujarat, compared to 43 nominees from the community in 2019, according to Election Commission data.

Most of the candidates from the community are either contesting independently or have been fielded by lesser-known parties.

Gujarat Congress's minority department chairman Vajirkhan Pathan told PTI, ''The party has traditionally fielded at least one candidate from the Muslim community in the Lok Sabha elections in the state, especially from Bharuch. This time it was not possible as the seat went to the AAP.'' The Congress had offered to field a candidate from one seat in Gujarat, but the community members declined given a slim chance of victory, he claimed.

''There is no scope for a Muslim candidate to contest from any other seat. Two seats - Ahmedabad West and Kutch - with sizable Muslim population are reserved for Scheduled Caste candidates,'' Pathan said.

Apart from Bharuch, the Congress has in the past fielded Muslim candidates from Navsari and Ahmedabad (when it was not divided into Ahmedabad East and West seats).

In 1977, the Congress sent two Muslim candidates to Parliament - Ehsan Jafri from Ahmedabad and Ahmed Patel from Bharuch.

Patel went on to win two subsequent elections in 1980 and 1984 from Bharuch.

His son Faisal Patel and daughter Mumtaz Patel were among the contenders for the seat this time and had even expressed unhappiness after it went to the AAP which fielded tribal leader Chaitar Vasava.

In the past, the Congress fielded Muhammad Patel, Aziz Tankarvi and Sherkhan Pathan from Bharuch in the 2004, 2009 and 2019 Lok Sabha elections, respectively. In the 2014 Lok Sabha election, it fielded Maksud Mirza, its only Muslim candidate, from the Navsari seat.

The Mayavati-led BSP has this time offered ticket to Mohammad Anis Desai to contest from Gandhinagar, where he is pitted against BJP heavyweight and Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

Out of the 25 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat where elections will be held, Gandhinagar has the highest number of eight Muslim candidates.

Jamnagar and Navsari have five Muslim candidates each, Patan and Bharuch four each, Porbandar and Kheda two each, and Ahmedabad East, Banaskantha, Junagadh, Panchmahl and Sabarkantha one each, according to Election Commission data.

While a majority of them are contesting as independents, some smaller parties such as the Right to Recall Party, Bharatiya Jan Nayak Party, Social Democratic Party, Garib Kalyan Party and Log Party have also fielded Muslim candidates from different seats.

Ismail Patel, the sarpanch of Sarod village in Bharuch's Jambusar taluka who is contesting as an independent candidate from Bharuch Lok Sabha seat, said he tried for a ticket for the 2022 state assembly elections, but it was denied by the Congress.

''Big political parties ignore Muslim leaders because of which we have to find a way out and contest the election as independent candidates. People in our area face a lot of issues but the local leaders do not come to their aid, because of which locals want a leader from their community,'' he claimed.

A total of 266 candidates are in the fray for the May 7 elections in Gujarat, according to the final list of candidates published on April 22.

Out of the 26 seats in Gujarat, Surat has gone to the BJP after its candidate Mukesh Dalal was last week declared elected unopposed.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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