New Delhi: As the All-India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen’s (AIMIM) influence is growing among Muslims in Maharashtra, the Congress minority cell has sought to field more Muslims in the October 21 Assembly elections.
The Congress had fielded 19 minority candidates in the 2014 Assembly elections, when it contested alone the elections to the 288-member House. In the 2009, it had given tickets to 12 Muslims while contesting 174 seats.
This time, the Congress is in alliance with the Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) and each will be contesting 125 seats. “We have demanded a fair share in tickets and hope at least 25 tickets will be given by the party to minorities,” Chairman of the Congress Minority Department Nadeem Javed said on Thursday.
The department has written to party General Secretary in-charge of Maharashtra in this regard and the matter has been referred to the central election committee.
Giving reasons for the demand, another leader of the department said, the AIMIM, a Hyderabad-based party headed by Asaduddin Owaisi, was “gaining ground and popularity” among Muslims in Maharashtra, who “traditionally voted for the Congress-NCP combine”.
“A fair representation to minorities by the Congress in tickets can stop voters shifting towards the AIMIM,” he said.
But a senior leader deputed for Maharashtra polls said accommodating many Muslim candidates would not be possible as the number of seats being contested was lesser this time.
Muslims constitute almost 12 per cent of Maharashtra’s population.
Congress MP Hussain Dalwai has also raised the issue of “fair representation” of Muslims in the ticket distribution as well as in the organisational polls in the state.
Expressing angst, a Muslim Congress ticket aspirant in Maharashtra, said, “the party (Congress) wants Muslim votes en masse, but when it comes to giving tickets, the party offers excuses.”
Congress had six Muslim MLAs in the outgoing Maharashtra Assembly, but one of them — Abdus Sattar from Sillod — has switched over to the BJP.
The AIMIM had two MLAs and one of them — Imtiyaz Jaleeel — has since been elected to the Lok Sabha from Aurangabad.