[During a recent visit to Surat, Congress Vice President Rahul Gandhi also interacted with textile traders and manufacturers. (Photo/Twitter/@OfficeOfRG)]
Surat: Weeks before the crucial assembly polls in Gujarat, the Congress leadership Wednesday found itself in an awkward situation when banners put up by some Muslim groups demanding party tickets surfaced at various places in major textile hub Surat.
The banners put up in the old city, currently represented by BJP MLA Ranjit Gilitwala, warned the Congress that the party would not get any Muslim vote if it ignored Muslims while distributing tickets for the upcoming election.
Gilitwala had defeated senior Congress leader Kadir Pirzada by over 15,700 votes in the 2012 assembly elections.
Local media reports said youth workers of the Congress put up the banners in order to put pressure on the party leadership to field a Muslim candidate from Surat East assembly constituency.
According to Firoz Malik, said to be one of the strong contenders for the seat, Muslim youths feel that despite their dedication and commitment to the party, the Congress might not give ticket to a Muslim nominee from Surat East.
According to him, the Congress has a good chance this time to defeat the BJP in Surat East with a combination of Muslim, Vohra and Dalit votes.
Of the total 2.4 lakh votes in the segment, Muslims comprise around 84,000, while Vohras and Dalits number about 3,500 and 14,000, respectively, he said, adding all of them are with the Congress.
"As of now, we have pacified the youths and conveyed their feelings to the high command. If we combine all the votes of Muslims, Vohras and Dalits, we can say the Congress has a golden chance (to win) this time if a Muslim is given ticket. I feel such an opportunity should not be wasted," said Malik.
Surat is one of the largest textile hubs in India. The Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP) is facing stiff opposition here especially after GST rollover as the industry has almost collapsed because of the new tax system.
The 2017 Assembly elections in Gujarat are scheduled to be held in two phases on December 09 and December 14. Counting of votes will be done on December 18.