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5th Muharram 1436 | Saturday, Nov 01, 2014
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Muslims and Lok Sabha elections in Gujarat

Friday, 28 March 2014
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March 28:

The State of Gujarat was formed on May 1st, 1960, along with Maharashtra as a result of the Samyukta Maharashtra and Mahagujarat Movement through the division of Bombay State. Therefore, the Gujarat State was formed after first two general elections of 1952 and 1957.

Although the State had a Muslim population of 8-9 per cent (1962 - 2004), the Muslim politics revolved around just one seat of Braoch although Banaskantha and Ahmedabad were other seats won by a Muslim candidate.
Muslim candidates, most of them as independents or as nominees of national parties like BSP or SP, tried their luck from Kutch (19%), Porbandar (10%), Kaira (10%), Sabarkantha (9%), Anand (19%), Godhra (7%), Surat (13%) and other seats. But all of them lost.

In the first General Elections held in Gujarat in 1962, only two Muslims were in the fray for 22 seats and only one got elected to the Lok Sabha. Zoharaben Akbarbhai Chavada was elected on Congress ticket from Banaskantha seat where the percentage of Muslim voters was around six per cent (*As in 1981).

In the next elections of 1967, not a single Muslim candidate was nominated by any party from any of the 24 seats. Therefore, the Muslim representation in Lok Sabha from Gujarat was nil. Similarly, in 1971, the lone Muslim candidate failed to win the election from Broach seat which had about 17 per cent Muslim voters.

A positive change was noted in 1977, when three Muslim candidates contested the elections. Of them, two Muslims got elected for Lok Sabha. While Patel Ahmedbhai Mohamadbhai was elected from Baroach (17%), Ahsan Jafri was elected from Ahmedabad seat (15%) on Congress tickets. This trend could not be maintained in future elections. In the General Elections held in 1980 and 1984, only one Muslim - Ahmed Patel was elected from Baroach seat.

However, this deprived representation too got eliminated from 1989.

As per 2001 Census, the Muslims constitute about 9 per cent of the total population. Of 26 districts (till August 15, 2013 when seven new districts came into existence), as many as seven had a population of more than 10 per cent Muslims. They are Bharuch (21.41%), Kachchh (20.80%), Jamnagar (14.19%), Ahmadabad (11.40%), Junagadh (11.21%), Kheda (10.80%) and Anand (10.73%). Likewise, there are nine districts where Muslim population is 5-10 per cent. They are Rajkot (9.23%), Surat (8.97%), Vadodara (8.71%), Bhavnagar (6.99%), Banas Kantha (6.79%), Surendranagar (6.46%), Panch Mahals (5.96%), Amreli (5.96%) and Sabar Kantha (5.66%).

However, despite good presence in terms of population, in 16 out of 26 districts, no Muslim candidate got elected from Gujarat since 1989 or for the last 25 years. Of course, the Muslim candidates tried their luck from different seats, but the polarisation ensured their defeat.

In 1989, Muslim candidates contested from Surendranagar (9%) and Baroach (17) and lost.

Of 707,040 electors registered in Surendranagar seat, as many as 407,624 excercised their franchise. However, the total valid votes were 395,678 or 57.65 per cent. Of these, BJP candidate Koli Patel Somabhi Gandabhi polled 62.49 per cent votes to win the election against his nearest rival Digvijayasingji Pratapsinghji Jhala of Congress party who got 31.49 per cent votes. Two Muslim candidates - Ahmed Alibhal Shersiya of DMM got just 3.54 per cent votes while Independent candidate Baloch Basir Valimamad got 0.31 votes.

In Broach seat, of 11,09,306 electors, 704314 casted their votes. Of them, 684,705 or 63.49 % were valid votes. Of this, BJP's Deshmukh Chandubhai Shambhai got 57.72 per cent to get elected by defeating the sitting MP Ahmed Patel who got 39.25 per cent votes.

Exactly five years ago, the seat was same, the candidates were same, but the result was different. In 1984 elections, Ahmed Patel won by securing 63 per cent votes against Deshmukh (then with JNP) who got 34.44 per cent. The growth of BJP and its polarisation tactics reversed the polling trend in a seat traditionally held by a Muslim candidate for three consecutive terms. In 1977 elections, Ahmed Patel got 56.81 per cent votes against his nearest rival Unia Suleman Essuf of BLD who got 37.99 per cent. Similarly, in 1980 elections, Ahmed Patel defeated Deshmukh by getting 56.91% votes against his rival's 34.76 per cent.

However, the rise of BJP and its communal approach polarised the voters who stopped electing a Muslim candidate from a seat where the community constituted 17 per cent of the total electors.

The trend continued in 1991 elections, when Ahmed Patel lost second time to Deshmukh. However, this time the winning margin reduced to less than five per cent votes. While Deshmukh got 46.09%, Ahmed Patel got 41.97% of total valid votes.

After losing the seat in two successive elections, the Congress party did not field a Muslim candidate from the seat in 1996 elections and the BJP's Deshmukh retained the seat for the third consecutive term.

In 1998 elections, Congress fielded Kakuji Iqbalbhai Mahammedbhai from Broach. However, Chandubhai Shanabhai Deshmukh of BJP was able to win the seat for the fourth time by defeating Iqbal Kakuji by margin of 1.82 per cent votes. While Deshmukh got 35.02%, Iqbal Kakuji secured 33.20% votes.

In 1999 elections, the BJP fielded Mansukhbhai Vasava from Broach against Congress party's Amarsingh Ramsingh Vasava. Mansukhbhai won the seat by getting 49.94%, Ramsingh's 41.83 per cent. Despite losing the seats in five elections, the Congress party did not lose its voters base in the constituency completely.

In 2004 General Elections, the Congress party again nominated a Muslim candidate - Patel Muhammad Fansiwala from Broach. However, he lost the elections to BJP's Mansukhbhai by a margin of over 70,000 votes. This was the first general elections held in the Gujarat post-Godhra riots of 2001.

The results of 2009 elections were no different. The Muslim candidate - Umerji ahmed Ugharatdar alias Aziz Tankarvi, the Editor of a Gujarati daily, lost to BJP's Mansukhbhai Vasava by a margin of 27,232 votes. While Mansukhbhai secured 23.71 votes, Aziz Tankarvi got 21.64 per cent votes. The decrease in margin of victory clearly indicated that the people in Gujarat were losing their rigidity and approach towards Muslim candidates. However, elections are all about final results and it went in favour of the BJP. ---- Courtesy Wah Hyderabad

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