Karnataka election result: Muslims unite behind Congress amid ‘hijab, halal’ | Latest News India - Hindustan Times
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Karnataka election result: Muslims unite behind Congress amid ‘hijab, halal’

By, Bengaluru
May 14, 2023 08:25 AM IST

Karnataka election result: Indeed, while nineof the 15 Muslim candidates fielded by the Congress in Karnataka won, none of the 22 fielded by the JD(S) did.

For the first time since 2008, a Muslim has failed to win on a Janata Dal (S) ticket -- the party has a strong presence on Old Mysuru region, which has about 11% Muslim population -- indicating one of the interesting sub-strands of the Karnataka election results, a consolidation of Muslim votes in the region in favour of the Congress.

Muslim students wearing burqas and hijabs protest outside the Shivamogga district collector’s office on February 17, 2022. (HT file)
Muslim students wearing burqas and hijabs protest outside the Shivamogga district collector’s office on February 17, 2022. (HT file)

Political experts said that Muslims appeared to have consolidated in favour of the Congress, especially in the Old Mysuru region at the cost of Janata Dal (Secular), which usually banks on VM (Vokkaliga-Muslim) factor to win big in the region. The JD (S) was the only party, which openly spoke against the hijab ban and halal issue.

Karnataka Assembly election result: Full coverage link here

“In the Old Mysuru region, along with the Vokkaliga votes, Muslim votes have moved to the Congress from the JD(S). Even though the JD(S) had taken a strong stand against hijab issue hoping to get more Muslim votes, the vote bank has rallied behind the Congress fearing JD(S) might join hands with the BJP,” said the political analyst A Narayana.

Also Read: ‘Impact’ of Rahul Gandhi's Bharat Jodo Yatra in Karnataka? Here's Congress report card

Indeed, while nineof the 15 Muslim candidates fielded by the Congress in Karnataka won, none of the 22 fielded by the JD(S) did. In 2018, of the seven Muslim candidates who won, five were from the Congress and two from the JD (S). In that election, 25 Muslim candidates were given tickets by the two parties, 17 by the Congress and 8 by the JD (S). The BJP did not field any Muslim candidates in 2018 and 2023.

Political analysts and party workers say Muslim votes matter in about 65 of the 224 constituencies in the state. An analysis of the election data showed that the Congress was able to win almost half of the 65 assembly seats where Muslims matter. According to Census 2011, the latest available, Muslims account for almost 13% of the state’s population.

In coastal Karnataka, the BJP won 12 of the 19 seats as compared to 16 in 2018. The Congress won five seats as compared to three in 2018 and the JD (S) won one. Of the 15 Congress Muslim candidates, only three were fielded from coastal Karnataka.

The Basavaraj Bommai headed BJP government in Karnataka introduced a slew of measures, which were seen as targeting the Muslim community. In 2022, the government banned Hijab in the pre-university colleges across the state, leading to protests in coastal Karnataka districts such as Udupi, which the BJP swept by winning all the five seats.

But Karnataka Education Minister and BJP leader BC Nagesh, who had enforced the Hijab ban and had urged an economic boycott of Muslims , lost from the Tiptur assembly constituency in Tumkur district.

In 2022, the BJP government passed laws against religious conversion and transportation of cattle in the state. Some BJP leaders also called for a ban on Halal meat in the state.

The BJP government’s decision to scrap 4% reservation for Muslims under the other backward classes category was seen as another onslaught on the minority population even though Bommai justified it saying reservation was not allowed for religious lines under the Constitution and that the community could get the benefit of reservation under the 10% quota for economically weaker sections. The matter was challenged in the Supreme Court where the state made a tactical retreat and announced that it would not implement the decision. The Congress has promised to restore the quota.

The Congress manifestor promised to ban organisations such as Popular Front of India and Bajrang Dal . PFI has already been banned by the Indian government, and the party’s invocation of the RSS affiliate Bajrang Dal did not go down well with the BJP with even Prime Minister Narendra Modi lashing out at it. The move, Congress leaders say, was thought ot.

“Before making the manifesto promise on Bajrang Dal, we calculated that the Hindu consolidation will not happen for the BJP. The reason was our surveys showing that BJP’s polarisation plank had peaked in 2018 assembly elections. So, Bajrang Dal was a gamble which has worked for us,” said a senior Congress leader who asked not to be named.

Although on Saturday there was no data available to gauge the Muslim consolidation in favour of the Congress, the India Today-Axis My India exit polls on Wednesday suggested that there would 10% increase in the Muslim votes for the Congress and results suggest a similar trend. Axis had projected 122-140 seats for the Congress. The Congress won 136.

In Old Mysuru, which falls in southern region of Karnataka having, 46 seats, the Congress won 29, the JD (S) 11 and the BJP 5. In 2018, the Congress won 11 and JD (S) 25. The BJP won 9.

Similarly, its success in constituencies in Bombay Karnataka where Muslims can influence the decision,helped the Congress win more seats in the region (17) than the BJP . This time, the Congress won 33 and BJP 16. In 2018, the BJP won 30 of the 50 seats in this region. “The Congress party is the only true secular party that cares for all communities. That is reason all communities including the Muslims have rallied behind us,” Congress leader MB Patil said.

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