Will Muslim votes make a difference in LS polls? Here's a look at top seven states

With the Lok Sabha elections around the corner, the communalism versus secularism debate has taken centre stage and the Muslim vote has emerged as a key issue.

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and its prime minister nominee Narendra Modi have come under attack from all corners, even as opinion polls predict an impressive show by the saffron brigade.

From Congress president Sonia Gandhi to Bengal chief minister Mamata Banerjee and Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) leader Mayawati, politicians cutting across party lines have trained guns on Modi over the 2002 Gujarat riots under his watch as chief minister.

Adding a fresh chapter to the debate, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, the Shahi Imam of Jama Masjid in Delhi, has announced his support for the Congress. This endorsement comes three days after Gandhi met him.

Bukhari has said, “We have complaints against the Congress, but that doesn’t mean we will vote for people who want to divide the country.”

In the face of attacks, the BJP has for some time now projected a more inclusive agenda. Party chief Rajnath Singh has said he is ready to apologise for past mistakes.

But the question remains: will the Muslim community, which accounts for around 15% of the 814 million voters in India, support the BJP?

While decoding the political equations in the run-up to the elections beginning Monday, HT brings you a list of key states where Muslim votes will play a role in deciding the outcome.

Uttar Pradesh

In UP, the turnout of Muslim voters is likely to rise in order to combat ‘Modi wave’. The community is likely to opt for tactical voting to defeat the party. HT Photo

With nearly a fifth of its population being Muslim, UP is a state where the community’s vote may play a decisive role. For non-BJP parties – SP, BSP and Congress – winning over the Muslim population will be a key factor. 

Given the BJP’s edge, Muslims may opt for tactical voting, and the turnout is expected to be high to stop the ‘Modi wave’.

Rajasthan

The community's disillusionment with the Congress was clear in the 2013 assembly polls, when all 16 Muslim candidates fielded by the party lost. HT Photo

In Rajasthan, Muslims will influence the outcome in at least nine of the 25 Lok Sabha seats. But since the community appeared ‘disillusioned’ by the Congress – when all 16 of its Muslim candidates lost the assembly election last year, Muslims are likely to opt for non-Congress, non-BJP alternatives.

West Bengal

In 2011, TMC ended Left’s 34-year-old rule in Bengal riding on support, including that from Muslims, against the backdrop of the Singur and Nandigram land movements. HT Photo

Bengal, the second-largest Muslim population in the state barring Jammu and Kashmir and Lakshwadeep, has always had the Muslim vote playing the decisive role. The ruling Trinamool Congress enjoys the community’s allegiance, which is only bolstered by Jama Masjid Imam’s Friday endorsement of Mamata Banerjee and the chief minister’s stinging attacks on the BJP. 

The Left Front, however, may give the Trinamool a run for its money after it fielded the most number of Muslim candidates.

Bihar

There is a talk that JD(U) could get the support of minorities only where UPA candidadets are considered 'weak'. HT Photo

In Bihar, Muslim votes can influence outcome in at least nine seats. There is a big talk that Muslims are likely to vote in favour of the UPA, while the JD(U) could get the support of minorities where UPA candidates are considered ‘weak’. 

Md Wahid Ahmad, convenor of the Bihar unit of National Momin Congress, said “secular parties” should have fielded more Muslim candidates and popular faces.

Kerala

Consolidation of Muslim votes is likely behind the Congress-led United Democratic Front in Kerala. PTI Photo

As the Narendra Modi factor grows stronger, there is likely to be a consolidation of the minority Christian and Muslim votes behind the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) in Kerala. 

Minority votes could help the ruling UDF tide over the anti-incumbency factor. In most of the opinion polls in Kerala, Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi has been rated as the most suitable prime minister.

Assam

in the 2009 Lok sabha polls, the AIUDF caused heavily erosion of the Congress based among immigrant Muslim votes. HT Photo

In Assam, Muslim voters constitute about 35% of the electorate and play a deciding role in six of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies. Muslim-dominated areas in Assam were regarded as Congress bastions. But since 2009, state’s All India United Democratic Front has fought the Congress for the Muslim vote pie, giving an advantage to the BJP that won four seats during the last Lok Sabha polls. 

How the community can keep its votes undivided between the AIUDF and Congress is to be seen.

Maharashtra

Muslim voters can influence poll outcome in nine seats. HT Photo

Muslim voters in Maharashtra are expected to vote in a strategic manner, like in most other states, to prevent the split of anti-BJP votes. 

The Congress has given ticket to only one Muslim candidate, Hidayat Patel from Akola in western Vidarbha. Other parties – the NCP, Shiv Sena and the BJP – have no Muslim candidate.
Source..hindustan times

Kejriwal releases AAP's LS polls manifesto: promises jan lokpal, lower age to contest elections

AAP on Thursday promised an array of initiatives in its manifesto for the Lok Sabha polls like bringing a strong Jan Lokpal Bill, installing CCTV cameras in court rooms and bringing down the age to contest elections to 21 from 25.
Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) chief Arvind Kejriwal releases the party's manifesto ahead of the general elections in New Delhi. (AP Photo)

Releasing the manifesto, party chief Arvind Kejriwal said decentralization of power, citizen's charter to ensure time-bound delivery of services and providing good governance will be some other priority areas for the party.

The AAP leader said his party was "industry friendly" as creation of wealth was essential for overall development of the country but noted that it was against "crony capitalism".

Emphasising on judicial accountability, he also proposed to double the number of judges in courts across the country in the next five years. "We will install CCTV in police stations. There should be cameras in interrogation rooms as well. We have proposed to make separate investigative and law and order wings in police.

The internal accountability of police must be fixed. "There must be judicial accountabilty. We must have a fast, efficient and honest justice system. In five years, we will double the number of judges to ensure speedy justice," he said.


The AAP leader also announced that the four-year undergraduate programme in Delhi University will be withdrawn as demanded by a section of students and teachers.

Stressing on police reforms, Kejriwal said his party will make "not lodging an FIR an offence". Elaborating on its economic policy, Kejriwal said that his party was pro-business and pro-industries. "We are not against industries or business, but we are against crony capitalism.

We believe that unless industries dont flourish we wont be able generate jobs. "But, we are against the system of contract labours because it violates basic human rights," he said.


On foriegn policy, the AAP leader said that his party advocated friendly relations with all the countries, but had "zero tolerance" for cross border terrorism. "We will work to reduce political hostilities in our immediate neighbourhood but we will have zero tolerance for cross border terrorism.

"Border areas should be developed as zones of high economic engagements to create a larger constituency for peace on both sides. We will work to enhance the defence capacity to deter the border incursions by China, but will also strive for a greater and more balanced trade with the country," he said.

Kejriwal added that the party will not only work to reduce the foriegn dependence in equipment, but also will also try to bring transparency in procurement of defence equipment.

With 426 candidates declared for the Lok Sabha polls, the 15-month-old AAP has shot ahead of major parties like the Congress (414), BJP (415) and SP (160).


Kejriwal will challenge Bharatiya Janata Party's prime ministerial candidate Narendra Modi in Varanasi and Kumar Vishwas aims to tackle Congress' Rahul Gandhi in his constituency Amethi.

While the Kejriwal-led party released its manifesto a week after Congress launched its poll document, the BJP will share its document on April 7.
Source-hindustan times

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