Congress leaders, who led campaign during the recent Gujarat elections, have contested their party general secretary Digvijay Singh’s analysis that Muslims did not come out to vote, as they had been paid Rs500 each by the BJP. “This has been the BJP’s strategy for the last 15-20 years. The BJP cadre and candidates fan out in Muslim-majority constituencies and enforce a lower voter turnout by buying them off. If you see the voting pattern in Muslim-dominated areas, the turnout is never over 25-30% ,” he had said.
Armed with a post-poll post-mortem and analysis of results, Congress leaders believe that Muslims not only had overwhelmingly lined up before the polling booths, but also voted for the Congress.
In some seats, their votes got divided, as two or more Muslim candidates were vying for their votes. On the other hand, polarisation in such seats helped the BJP to gain Hindu votes en mass.
The Vejalpur seat in Ahmedabad went to RSS pracharak Kishore Chauhan, because Hindus voted for him and the Muslims who account 35 per cent voted for the Congress candidate. Murtaza Khan Pathan polled 72,000 votes, , while Chauhan swept with 1,13,500 votes that is the approximate number of the Hindu voters in the constituency.
The Congress analysis also agrees that it bagged just 12 seats as against the BJP’s 21 and NCP’s 1 in 34 seats having more than 15% Muslim concentration.
It includes 15 seats with 20% or more population where BJP bagged 9 and the Congress 6 seats. There are only four Assembly constituencies with more than 40% Muslim population.