Imran Khedawala of the Congress is the only Muslim candidate elected to the 182-member Gujarat Assembly in the just concluded polls, which saw the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) register a landslide victory. The outgoing Assembly had three Muslim legislators, all from the Congress.
Khedawala, the sitting Congress MLA from the Jamalpur-Khadia Assembly constituency in Ahmedabad city, won the election by a margin of 13,658 votes to retain the seat.
Famous as the Jai-Veeru duo in the 14th Gujarat Assembly, Khedawala’s jodidaar Ghiyasuddin Sheikh, Congress MLA from Dariapur constituency, lost the elections to BJP rival Kaushik Jain.
Shortly after the results, Sheikh came visited Khedawala to congratulate him. “Both turned emotional and Sheikh was seen bolstering Imran to remain strong,” shared those present at the scene. In fact, Sheikh and Khedawala were always seen together, whether at party programmes or in the House.
Sheikh, known for his modesty, carried on life on the Activa even as an MLA. However, the BJP strom surely upset the Congress applecart this time.
Interestingly a total 230 Muslim candidates contested 73 seats on AIMIM, Congress, AAP and BSP tickets. Notably, there was no BJP Muslim candidate fielded this time. Congress had six Muslim names on its list.
Significantly, the number of Muslim MLAs has been on a wane ever since the 1980s when the Congress leveraged 12 from the minority community on basis of the KHAM (Kshatriya, Harijan, Adivasi, Muslim) formula. In the last election, Mohammad Javed Peerzada, Ghyasuddin Sheikh and Imran Kherawala won as Congress representatives.
Interestingly Sheikh lost from Dariapur, despite the 46% Muslim vote share. Likewise, Peerzada’s defeat was unexpected given that his family has been holding on to the Morbi Wankaner seat since two generations. Even though the AAP fielded three Muslim candidates, all lost to respective BJP contenders.