To aim for a historic win in the upcoming assembly elections in Gujarat, the ruling Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) has come up with a magnificent organizational strategy to conquer the 74 Muslim-influenced regions of the state. Earlier in June, during the membership drive, led by the Gujarat-BJP president, CR Paatil, the party delegated responsibilities to its Muslim member groups for 34 constituencies that gave BJP a hard setback in the year 2012.
As per Census 2011, Gujarat is mainly dominated by Hindus that consists of 88.57 percent of its total population. Whereas, Muslims cover only 58.47 lakhs (0.52 percent) of the total habitancy. It is to be noted that the current population of Gujarat is approximately over 6.27 crores and so, 182 members of the Legislative Assembly are directly elected from the state’s constituencies of which the number of Muslim legislators is expected to be nearly 18 in figure, but in reality, the numbers never crossed seven till date. At Present, Imran Khedawala from Jamalpur Khadia, Gyasuddin Shaikh from Dariyapur and Javed Peerzada from Wankaner are the chief Muslim Congress legislators in Gujarat Legislative Assembly, elected for three consecutive times in the state.
The average population of these 74 Muslim majority areas is more than 20,000 in number. The voting percentage is far less than what is expected and could not make any great impact during the last election. In the year 2017, BJP had won in 17 of the 28 constituencies of Gujarat, inhabited by around 20-25,000 people, whereas Congress had won on 10 seats, and an BJP-backed independent party leader, Ratan Sinh Rathod scored 3200 votes to won Lunawada seat from Mahisagar region of the state.
The saffron party won in 4 of the 8 legislative regions chiefly dominated by Muslims. On the other hand, Congress Party hold its victory on 3 of the other seats, whereas Banaskantha’s Vadgam was won by the Congress-backed independent party contestant Jignesh Mewani, an MLA from the state.
Both of the national parties, BJP and Congress fought equally over 16 of the constituencies covering 30-35,000 population in length. The Congress party led by one seat during the other round of 16 constituencies covering 35-45,000 habitat.
In Gujarat, half of the population in 6 of the constituencies are primarily dominated by Muslims. BJP had managed to win 3 of those seats (Jamalpur Khadia, Dariyapur and Jambusar), whereas in Gujarat’s Limbayat, Vagara and Bharuch areas, it had won with a big margin.
While speaking to the Vibes of India, President of Gujarat state’s Minority wing, Dr Mohsin Lokhandwala, said, “We have defined 45 of such constituencies that couldn’t make a huge impact in the last assembly elections or won by the opposition party. We have associated those areas with our Muslim party workers during our membership drive (held in June this year). We had set our target and covered those areas in the first place. During this campaign, our party workers talked about the current Centrally-government sponsored welfare schemes and historic decisions for an entire month, for instance, Ayushman Yojna, Pradhanmantri Awaas Yojna, PM Ujjwal Yojna, and many such other schemes that could benefit the Muslim and other minority communities at large. We had also stressed on the fact that how PM Modi and the BJP government are trying hard enough to work in the national interest of the country relentlessly, whereas other parties are just taking advantage of their vulnerabilities. It is proven from the results (of the election) that Muslims have started casting their votes in favour of BJP.
Adding further, Dr Mohsin Lokhandwala stated that over 200 Muslim representatives have won in the elections held for District council and Block Panchayat. They have been ordained at various positions from Block to District level. In Jamnagar city run-by Municipal corporation, we had brought-in a Muslim representative, but he couldn’t make it. There are over 61 percent Muslim voters in Jamalpur Khadia of Gujarat’s Ahmedabad district. We had won this constituency way back in 2012 where 20-25 percent of the Muslims had casted their votes in our favour. In this election, we have set out target to achieve 25 percent votes in each of the Muslim-dominated constituencies. Adding flavour to his laugh, he highlighted that BJP is capable and strong enough to lead and win at any election. Besides, rules and regulations directed by the Election Commission must also to be taken care of. People from every facet of Muslim community- educated or those running small-local businesses are turning their heads towards this party.
When questioned on why BJP do not offer its ticket to Muslim candidates in assembly elections, Dr Lokhandwala, said that the saffron-party doesn’t demarcate any line between the castes and religions and consider all as one. It’s a nationalist party and works in the interest of the country. If the party feels that a candidate is capable enough to make a difference and could win, it would certainly ponder over its decision The Muslim community in the state of Gujarat have been a hard-core witness of its progress and development. The name of the state has been deprecated to a great extent. Muslim community in Gujarat neither considers ‘All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul-Muslimeen (AIMIM) as an opponent nor as their admirer.