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2014 Lok Sabha Polls: Muslims can influence 196 seats
Sunday March 9, 2014 10:50 PM, Syed Ali Mujtaba, ummid.com

It is high time to call off the bluff of Muslim vote bank in Indian politics. The Dalits like to vote the party that favors them, so are the Hindu caste groups, and even their Jatis are doing the same. Everyone wants to seek affiliation with the nearest similar identities and try to influence the electoral process. It's the rule of the game of ballot box democracy and there is nothing unusual about it. In fact such designs are encouraged by the political parties who give tickets to the candidates that have significant electoral base.

Indian Muslims

However, when it comes to Muslims there is a hue and cry raised about them and the issue of vote bank politics is raked up during electioneering process. The political parties in order to avoid such mudslinging deny Muslim candidate their party ticket. It is one of the reasons why Muslims are politically weak in the county, even though they are electorally quite significant.

According to the census figures of 2011, Muslims are nearly 15 percent of India's 1.2 billion populations. However, this 15 percent is represented by only 30 Muslim sounding name MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha. This is just 5.5 percent of the 543 seats. How can 15 per cent of Muslim population have just 5.5 representations, if it's a monolithic community and a vote bank? It's high time to call off such bluff because it's meant to create a non Muslim vote bank.

The fact is even though Muslims are barely a third of their share in the population in the Lok Sabha, their electoral influence is far greater than their actual representation. This has to be understood in terms of electoral arithmetic of the Lok Sabha seats. Out of 543 Lok Sabha seats, Muslim can actually influence 196 seats. How?

The pollsters have identified that out of 80 seats in UP, Muslims can influence 54 seats. Similarly in Bihar they can do so in 29 out of 40 seats, in West Bengal on 28 out of 42 seats, in Karnataka on 15 out of 28 seats, in Kerala on 14 out of 20 seats, in Maharashtra on 13 out of 48 seats, in Andhra Pradesh on 12 out of 42 seats, in Assam 9 out of 14 seats, in Gujarat 6 out of 26 seats and in Rajasthan, on 6 out of 25 seats. As a matter of fact Muslims have significant influence over 10 states out of total 28 states in India.

The above analysis has come from the percentage of Muslim voters in the Lok Sabha constituencies. There are 30 per cent Muslim voters in 35 LS seats. In 38 other seats, Muslims are 21 to 30 percent. In another 145 LS seats they are 11 to 20 percent. If all these are added, Muslim voters have the ability to influence the results of a whopping 218 LS seats.

Further, there are 5 to 10 percent Muslim voters in 183 LS constituency and 5 per cent in 142 LS seats. These voters too can make significant impression on the electoral process.

Ironically, until now, the Muslim vote has been most effective where it is around 10 percent of the electorate, big enough to sway the result in a multi-cornered contest, by going all in for a single candidate.

However, where Muslim's presence is over 20 percent and above, their votes have been mostly ineffective. This is because of a multiplicity of Muslim candidates that divide their votes. In such constituencies, there is often counter-polarization of non-Muslim votes and that ensures victory of a non Muslim candidate. So the allegations of Muslim vote bank again falls flat, in such cases it's the other way round.

The history of Muslim community is littered with the litany of riots after riots. It's a snake and ladder story for them. Various commission and committees have been appointed to assess their status. In their reports such committees have suggested to take affirmative action to arrest their fall. However, such ideas have been resisted both by those in the government due to political reasons.

Muslims are considered important only for electoral purposes. Take their votes and keep them at a distance, is the political mantra. If we compare the growth story of the Muslim community with those of the other communities, the hypocrisy of religious bias, shouts from the roof top. This is because Muslims are politically weak, surviving on the largess of the some political parties.

It is seen that since last six decades, Muslims have never cast their votes with their head held high taking pride in being Indian Muslims. They have always voted out of fear from the communal forces and voted the party that assured them security. Be it Congress, RJD, Samajwadi, BSP and others. This is the most pitiable part of the electoral pattern of the largest minority community in India.

Muslims have learnt lessons from their past experience in 1998 and 1999 LS polls, where their votes were split and that made BJP led NDA come to power. In 2004 LS elections, they voted tactically in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar and turned the tables around. In 2009 elections Muslims voted for Nitish Kumar in Bihar for his developmental efforts even though he was part of BJP alliance. However, in Uttar Pradesh their tactical voting gave the UPA the cutting edge, and seated them to power for the second term. After that the Muslim votes dictated the Uttar Pradesh assembly results and had a big role to play in bringing Samajwadi party to power.

Given their electoral strength, Muslims definitely have the potential to make a significant impact on at least 100 to 165 seats. This is not to be confused with the seats that they can win. This number is for sure to be more than 30 if they vote tactically. Muslim leaders reckon the community's vote potential. The challenge before the leadership is to make the community aware of their voting prows and to democratically assert themselves in the Indian politics.

The leadership has to tell to the Muslims community that where they are over 20 per cent, they must vote for a single candidate even if there are multiple Muslim candidates. There are many other such lessons to be taught to the community to face the electoral battle ahead.

If politics decides the future of the Muslim community in India, why not Muslims be taught such lessons. It's only on their electoral strength Muslims can gain political strength and their development hinges on this strength. When this is the reality and if its politics that matters in the end then Muslims should be aware of the rules of the game of politics. Let there be classes held in each nook and corner of Muslim dwellings, for learning the basics of their electoral arithmetic.

It is high time that Indian Muslims should be made aware to become the captain of their ship and master of their destiny and steer themselves through the calm waters of the electoral politics in India.

In 2014 LS polls, the battle grounds for Muslims are UP, Bihar and West Bengal. In these states Muslims are around 20 percent in overall population. In these states out of 162 seats, there are 111 seats where Muslims can make difference. As such these results will make a significant impact on government formation after the polls.

The other states that are equally important to Muslims are; Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Assam and Maharashtra. Here, at stake for them are 54 seats out of 138 seats. All together it makes 165 LS seats where Muslims can make significant difference in the outcome of poll results.

The 2014 Lok Sabha election will be an interesting political battle ground for the Muslims to assert their claim. The results of the polls will only let us know the actual Muslim representation in the 16th Lok Sabha.

Syed Ali Mujtaba is a journalist based in Chennai. He can be contacted at syedalimujtaba@yahoo.com





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