The lone candidate from the community is from Congress
Though the Bharatiya Janata Party had some Muslim faces at its prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi’s roadshow in Vadodara early this month, the saffron party has not fielded a single Muslim candidate for the 26 Lok Sabha seats in Gujarat.
“We do not select candidates based on caste and religion. We look at the work done by our workers and the winnability factor. Besides, L.K. Advani is our representative from the minority [Sindhi] community. Candidate selection is done after our local workers and leaders submit names based on people’s contribution and work,” BJP media cell convenor Harshad Patel said.
The Aam Aadmi Party has no Muslim candidates either in its list of 23 candidates. “We did not find any, though we have fielded two in the Vidhan Sabha byelections,” AAP’s State spokesperson Harshal Nayak said.
The lone Muslim candidate for the Lok Sabha polls is Maksud Mirza of the Congress, who will contest from Navsari.
According to the 2001 Census data, Muslims account for up to 9.5 per cent of Gujarat’s population. Despite this, the State has had a long history of total absence of the Muslim community in Parliament. The Lok Sabha constituencies of Jamnagar, Bharuch — earlier represented by Ahmed Patel of the Congress, Navsari and Kachchh have a dominant presence of Muslims. Three of these are with the BJP, Jamnagar being with the Congress.
Social activist Hanif Lakdawala said the last Muslim MP from Gujarat was Ahmed Patel, who was elected in 1984. Since then, there has been no Muslim parliamentarian from Gujarat. The representation of Muslims had decreased in the State Legislature as well. “Earlier, we had about eight to 10 MLAs, but the 2012 Assembly elections saw only five Muslim MLAs, all from the Congress.”
He said the Muslims in the BJP had no hold over their community and were not able to win even corporation elections. Mr. Modi’s ‘sadbhavana fast’ three years ago was just a show.
“The neighbourhood of Juhapura in Ahmedabad has a strong Muslim population of four lakh. However, in a strategic move, this part was divided in the delimitation exercise in 2006, thus splitting the Muslim vote,” Mr. Lakdawala said.