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Assam: Muslim voters play deciding role in polls

india Updated: Apr 07, 2014 08:00 IST
Digambar Patowary
Digambar Patowary
Hindustan Times
Assam polls

In Assam, Muslim voters constitute about 35% of the electorate and play a deciding role in six of the 14 Lok Sabha constituencies — Dhubri, Barpeta, Nagaon, Koliabor, Karimganj and Silchar.

Till 2005, Muslim-dominated areas in Assam were regarded as Congress bastions. But, in September 2005, the then Assam unit president of Jamiat Ulema-e-Hind, Maulana Badruddin Ajmal, founded the United Democratic Front (UDF). The Congress lost its edge in pockets of Barak valley (southern Assam) and immigrant Muslim-dominated areas of lower Assam.

The UDF was renamed as the AIUDF (All India United Democratic Front) in 2009. The AIUDF's entry into Assam's election battle gave a new dimension to the state's politics. It caused heavy erosion of the Congress base among immigrant Muslim voters in the general elections that year. The AIUDF fielded candidates against the Congress, helping the BJP win four constituencies — Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Silchar and Nagaon.
In Guwahati, Mangaldoi, Kokrajhar and Tezpur, the number of Muslim voters is between 2.5 lakh and four lakh. (However, this is not a significant percentage in comparison with the total number of voters in the four constituencies)

Constituencies with Muslim voters as dominant factor:

1. Dhubri (Muslims, mostly immigrant, account for 70% of the voters)
2. Barpeta (Muslims, mostly immigrant, account for 60% of the voters)
3. Mangaldoi (Nearly 400,000 voters are Muslims. Almost half are Assamese Muslims)
4. Guwahati (Nearly 400,000 voters are Muslims — both immigrants and Assamese)
5. Nagaon ( 40% voters are Muslims, mostly immigrants)
6. Koliabor ( 28% voters are Muslims, mostly immigrants)
7. Tezpur (250,000 voters are Muslims, mostly immigrants)
8. Karimganj ( 55% voters are Muslims)
9. Silchar ( 35% of voters are Muslims)
10. Kokrajhar ( 200,000 voters are Muslims, mostly immigrants)

In the other four constituencies of Jorhat, Dibrugarh, Lakhimpur and Diphu, Muslims do not have a significant presence)

Muslim candidates in the fray:

1. Badruddin Ajmal ( AIUDF), Dhubri constituency
2. Sirajuddin Ajmal (AIUDF), Barpeta constituency
3. (Sirajuddin is the brother of Badruddin)
4. Ismail Hussain ( Congress ), Barpeta constituency
5. Parvez Ahmed ( Trinamool Congress), Barpeta constituency ( Ahmed is the former CEO of Max hospital, Delhi, and son of Fakhruddin Ali Ahmed, former President of India)
6. Former state minister Wajed Ali Choudhuri, Dhubri constituency
7. Anowar Hussain ( Asom Gana Parisad), Dhubri constituency