Muslim voters in Maharashtra are likely to vote in a strategic manner to prevent the split of anti-BJP votes.
Accounting for 10.6% of the state's population, the Muslim community has a sizable presence in Bhiwandi, Malegaon, Dhule, Nagpur, Akola, Nanded, Parbhani, Aurangabad, Ahmednagar, parts of Konkan and some Mumbai constituencies.
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.
In a bid to woo Muslim voters, however, the NCP and the Congress had both recently sent one Muslim leader each to the Rajya Sabha.
The Samajwadi Party (SP), which has three members in the state assembly, has fielded eight Muslims out of its total 23 candidates.
However, the SP has withdrawn the nomination of Kamaal R Khan, its candidate from Mumbai North West constituency, following a controversy over Twitter remarks. The SP is yet to announce the replacement for Khan.
Also, seven of 47 candidates fielded by Arvind Kejriwal-led Aam Aadmi Party in Maharashtra are Muslims.