HindustanTimes Sun,21 Dec 2014

Stopping Modi key to voting in Bihar's Muslim hub

Aditya Nath Jha/Anirban Guha Roy  Araria/Kishanganj, April 19, 2014
First Published: 12:08 IST(19/4/2014) | Last Updated: 07:11 IST(20/4/2014)

Defeating Narendra Modi, the BJP's prime ministerial candidate, is the main concern of the Muslim population in Seemanchal region of eastern Bihar.

Four Lok Sabha seats in the region – Araria, Katihar, Purnia and Kishanganj – go to polls on April 24.

These constituencies have a Muslim population between 30% and 69%, and prominent community leaders have been campaigning door to door to make sure BJP loses from all four seats.

Meanwhile, both the RJD-Congress-NCP alliance and the JD (U) have been claiming the support of the minority community.

Muslim voters, however, are likely to choose the candidate who, in the opinion of the community leaders, is best suited to withstand the 'Modi wave'. This is the key to the Muslim vote in Seemanchal region.

"We are really worried about Narendra Modi inching towards power. We are doing whatever we can to stop him," said Mohammad Parwez Sahin of Kasba in Purnia district.

Mohammad Nadim, a student at Kushkibagh in Purnia, said, "We are opposed to Modi not because of the Gujarat riots, but because we don't find him suitable for Muslims."

Preparing for competitive examinations, Mohammad Razi of Dhamdaha in Purnia had another explanation, "We don't want Modi to become Prime Minister because if he does, India may lose goodwill among Muslim countries."

In the 2009 elections, the BJP had won three of the four seats – Purnia, Katihar and Araria.

But a Muslim leader said his community was determined to ensure that "secular" parties won all four seats this time.

"We are campaigning for Maulana Asrarul Haq of Congress in Kishanganj, Mohammad Taslimuddin in RJD in Araria, and Santosh Kushwaha of JD (U) in Purnia," said the Muslim leader on condition of anonymity.

In Araria, RJD veteran Taslimuddin is pitted against sitting MP Pradip Singh of BJP and JD (U) nominee Vijay Mandal.

In Purnia, Santosh Kushwaha of JD (U) is challenging sitting MP Uday Singh of BJP and Amarnath Tiwari of Congress.

In Katihar, sitting MP Nikhil Chaudhary of BJP is being challenged by NCP nominee Tariq Anwar, backed by Congress and RJD, and Ram Prakash Mahto of JD (U).

In Kishanganj, where the Muslim population is estimated to be close to 70%, sitting Congress MP Maulana Asrarul Haque faces BJP's Dilip Jaiswal.

Recently, Akharul Iman, who was the JD (U) candidate from Kishanganj, withdrew from the contest, allegedly to prevent a split in the "secular" votes.

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