108 Muslim candidates in Delhi election fray
December 03, 2013 - 9:19:32 am
New Delhi: The Delhi assembly elections tomorrow will see a slight increase in the participation of Muslim candidates from various political parties compared to the 2008 polls. The BSP has fielded the highest number of Muslim candidates along with Samajwadi Party.
Of the 810 candidates fielded for the 70 seats, a total number of 108 Muslims have been fielded — comprising 13 percent. In 2008, 92 Muslim candidates were fielded of the total 875 fighting the polls.
Muslims account for 11 percent of the 11.5 million voters in Delhi. The 70-member Delhi assembly has only five Muslim legislators.
“It is not just Delhi, but in all the state assemblies in the country Muslims have less representation,” Sanjay Kumar, fellow at Centre for the Study of Developing Societies and author of the book Changing Electoral Politics in Delhi, said.
Of the five Muslim lawmakers, four are from the ruling Congress. They belong to areas with sizeable Muslim population, including unauthorised and resettlement colonies — and comprise a major vote share of the oldest party in the country.
Around eight constituencies in Delhi have Muslim population of around 30-40 percent. These include Okhla, Mustafabad and Seelampur in east Delhi and Matia Mahal and Ballimaran in the Walled City. Fielding a non-Muslim candidate in these seats is considered to be suicidal.
Kumar pointed out that elections in these constituencies are fought on local issues. This time, the Congress has fielded six Muslim candidates, while the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has given a ticket to only one Muslim.
But it is the Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) which has given tickets to the highest number of 11 Muslims. “We give representation to all communities, unlike other parties. In 2008, we fielded six Muslim candidates, this time we have fielded 11,” BSP’s Delhi in-charge Ram Achal Rajbhar said.
Samajwadi Party’s Delhi president Usha Yadav said: “We have fielded 11 Muslim candidates this time.” Congress minister Haroon Yusuf, the most well known Muslim politician of Delhi, will seek a straight fifth term as MLA from Ballimaran in the Walled City.
Okhla constituency will see the maximum number of Muslim candidates. Of the total 18 candidates, 11 are Muslims. The fledgling Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has fielded six Muslim candidates in its debut year, including prominent party face Shazia Ilmi.
Campaigning for the elections ended yesterday as the Congress, BJP and AAP held over 25 meetings, road shows and rallies all over the capital in a last-minute effort to woo voters.
In their last press conference before the polls, each party claimed it will get a clear majority in the assembly, while both the BJP and Congress dismissed the AAP as any serious threat.
While the last day of campaigning went off peacefully, stray incidents of violence were reported.
The BJP’s campaign, led by its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi, overshadowed the other two parties. Modi’s rallies held across the city were a hit and were attended by thousands of people, whereas the Congress poll campaign led by party chief Sonia Gandhi and vice president Rahul Gandhi got a lukewarm response. On the other hand, the AAP did not organise any mega rally and limited itself to door-to-door campaigning. IANS