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In Maharashtra, Muslims stayed with Congress for want of a third alternative in the elections

Sunday, 18 May 2014 - 7:00am IST | Place: Mumbai | Agency: dna

The Congress and the NCP, the ruling alliance partners in Maharashtra, would be more worried about the thrashing they received in Lok Sabha constituencies in the state as this happened despite the Muslims voting for the alliance, according to initial information available. The two parties lost the contests in constituencies in Mumbai, Dhule, Nagpur, Solapur, Akola, Kalyan, Ichalkaranji, Aurangabad, Jalna and Parbhani, all of which have a significant Muslim population.

Besides, neither did the Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) nor the Samajwadi Party (SP) take away any significant share of the minority vote. For example, Farhan Azmi, the son of SP's state unit chief Abu Asim Azmi, polled just 5,875 votes in the Mumbai North Central constituency. "The Congress got a good number of votes of Muslims, otherwise many of its candidates may have forfeited their deposits," said Shabbir Ahmed Ansari of the All India Muslim OBC Organisation. The organisation had held a meeting to protest against the neglect of the community by successive governments.

"The Muslims were angry at the Congress but decided to forgive its sins and vote for the party to keep Narendra Modi out of power," said Ansari, who has been associated with veteran socialists like Karpoori Thakur and Chaudhari Bramhaprakash. He pointed out that unlike in states like Kerala and West Bengal, the Muslim votes were not divided in Maharashtra because of the lack of a viable secular alternative and that they had voted for the Congress out of compulsion and not conviction.

Muslims, who constitute about 14 per cent of the population in the state, lagged behind on various development indices, as revealed in the Rajinder Sachar and Ranganath Mishra reports. Ansari suggested, however, that a good number of Muslims appeared to have voted for the BJP's Nitin Gadkari in Nagpur and Gopinath Munde in Beed. He hoped that a Narendra Modi-led government would take the Muslims along and keep contentious issues like the Ram Mandir and a uniform civil code on the back burner.

"While the Muslims consolidated, the majority community did too," said a Muslim leader from the Congress. "Since the elections were polarised, there was little space for a third alternative to take the Muslim votes."

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