HindustanTimes Thu,18 Dec 2014

Bihar: Muslim voters may support ruling JD(U), RJD

Ashok Mishra, Hindustan Times   April 05, 2014
First Published: 15:31 IST(5/4/2014) | Last Updated: 15:59 IST(5/4/2014)

After chief minister Nitish Kumar severed ties with the BJP, speculations were rife that the ruling Janata Dal (United) would put focus on Muslims in a bid to compensate for the loss of upper-caste votes.

But the JD (U) gave tickets to just five Muslim candidates. Of them, three have come from Lalu Prasad's Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD), which will get the support of Bukhari.

The Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA) has given tickets to eight Muslim candidates (RJD: 6, Congress: 1 and NCP: 1). The Aam Aadmi Party has fielded three Muslim candidates, including former state minister Parveen Amanullah. The CPI (ML) has nominated one Muslim candidate.

Nineteen candidates in the fray from major parties for the 40 seats in Bihar are from the Muslim community. The Muslim vote can influence the outcome in at least nine seats: Kishanganj, Araria, Bhagalpur, Darbhanga, Sheohar, Siwan, Katihar, Purnea and Begusarai.

In the run-up to the elections, Nitish Kumar has targeted the BJP. So has his arch-rival Lalu Prasad.

Meanwhile, the BJP has re-nominated Shahnawaz Hussain, the sitting MP from Bhagalpur. Ramvilas Paswan's Lok Janshakti Party, a BJP ally, has roped in rebel Congress leader Choudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser, who will fight from Khagaria.

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 the National Momin Congress, said the "secular parties" eyeing Muslim votes should have fielded more Muslim candidates and better-known faces.

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