Support by the Muslims played a key role in the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) victory in Madhya Pradesh, says the BJP.
“Definitely they voted for us. More than 70% of the Muslim voters backed BJP’s programmes and policies,” said Prabhat Jha, the party’s national vice-president and a Rajya Sabha member.
Leaders from the minority community endorse Jha’s views. Abdul Rehman Farooqui, the Indore city qazi, said chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan did the trick for the saffron party.
“Had (Narendra) Modi not been projected as the BJP’s prime ministerial candidate, Chouhan would have got more votes,” he added.
Modi held several high-voltage rallies ahead of polling in the state — which has 22 seats with a sizable Muslim population. His verbal duel with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi was a key aspect of the campaigning phase.
The ruling BJP had fielded one Muslim candidate in comparison with Congress’ five nominees this assembly polls. Muslims account for 7 to 8% of the state’s population. Out of the 230 seats in MP, eight are minority dominated. These are Bhopal Central constituency, Bhopal North, Narela (Bhopal), Jabalpur, Ratlam, Ujjain, Burhanpur and Indore.
More than 60 per cent of Muslim voters voted in favour of the BJP this year. Bhopal North is the only constituency that elected Congress’ Arif Aqueel, the only MLA from the community.
“This time, the Muslim vote was pro-Chouhan. For most of the Muslims, Modi was not a factor,” said Mohammed Mahir, secretary of the Bhopal-based Muslim Vikas Parishad.
Chouhan, with his hat-trick assembly win, share the dais with Modi, who has achieved a similar feat in Gujarat.
Muslim leaders feel that the Congress made a mistake in gauging the mood of the community, particularly that of the youth. “The youth now realise that they cannot be used as vote bank,” Farooqi said.
Chouhan’s welfare schemes also struck the right chord. He laid the foundation stone of a Haj House in April, married off Muslim youth under the Mukhya Mantri Kanyadaan Yojana and allotted land for the construction of an Urdu University. In the run-up to the elections, he harped on the ‘Sarv Dharm Sadbhav’ slogan.
“It’s a victory for Chouhan’s image and sincerity. The Muslims voted on this count,” said, Pyare Saheb Ashrafi, a social worker from Burhanpur, a Muslim-dominated constituency.
Jha for his part said the BJP never treated Muslims as voters, but as citizens. “We do not consider them as secondary to Hindus,” he added.