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Rajasthan assembly elections 2018: Congress treads cautiously on Muslim seats over rebels and independents

Division in Muslim votes had helped BJP in the Muslim-dominated constituencies, especially in six constituencies, in the 2013 assembly polls, as many Muslim candidates of the Congress party contested as rebels or independent candidates.

rajasthan elections 2018 Updated: Oct 31, 2018 14:00 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, Jaipur
rajasthan assembly elections 2018,assembly elections 2018,rajasthan congress
The number of Congress MLAS would have been better in the outgoing Rajasthan assembly, had the rebel and independent candidates not played spoilsport for the party.(HT File Photo )

The Congress, organising brainstorming sessions to decide on “winnable candidates” for the upcoming assembly polls in Rajasthan, is keeping a close watch on Muslim dominated seats in the state where rebel and independent candidates had played spoilsport in the last assembly elections.

Division in Muslim votes had helped BJP in the Muslim-dominated constituencies, especially in six constituencies, in the 2013 assembly polls, as many Muslim candidates of the Congress party contested as rebels or independent candidates.

The analysis of voting trend in the 2013 elections suggest that the difference of votes between the winner and the loser was fewer than the votes polled by the Independent Muslim candidates. The Congress candidates may have won in 14 minority-dominated assembly constituencies of the state, had the rebel or independent candidates not contested.

Congress candidate from Kaman (Bharatpur), Zahida Khan lost to BJP’s Jagat Singh with a margin of 3,357 votes. In the elections, 10 minority candidates got 8,207 votes in total. In Adarsh Nagar constituency, late Mahir Azad lost to Ashok Parnami with a margin of 3,803 votes – candidates from minority received 4,556 votes.

Health minister in the former Congress government, AA Khan alias Duru Miyan was the second runner-up in the elections, as the party rebel Fazal Hussain, who contested on the BSP ticket, was the first runner-up. BJP’s Maman Singh Yadav won the seat defeating Hussain with a margin of 37,994 votes.

Similarly, in Ramgarh constituency (Alwar), Congress candidate Zubair Khan lost to BJP’s Gyan Dev Ahuja with a margin of 4,647 votes. Other minority candidates received 7790 votes.

Congress candidate from Nagaur Shuakat Ali was the second runner-up, as the party rebel Harinder Mirdha contested as Independent and was the first runner-up. BJP’s Habibur Rehman won the seat with a margin of 5,855 votes. Other minority candidates received 9,419 votes. In Tonk constituency, Congress candidate Zakia was the second runner-up, as the party rebel Saud Saidi, who contested as an Independent, lost to BJP’s Ajit Singh with a margin of 30343 votes.

In Jaipur, Kishanpole, Hawa Mahal and Adarsh Nagar are minority-dominated constituencies. Since 2008, when the assembly constituencies were reframed under the delimitation process, the Congress is giving ticket to minority candidates from Kishan Pole and Adarsh Nagar, but they lost to BJP with close margins, as infighting and independent candidates played spoilsport.

The statistics reflect that had the rebel and independent candidates not contested in the minority-dominated constituencies, the number of Congress legislators would have been better in the outgoing state assembly.

“I have contested six elections and won thrice. I lost thrice because of rebels from the community contested the polls. To an extent BJP was responsible, as they sponsored some candidates, but largely it was infighting among the community,” said Zakia Khan, Congress candidate, who contested in 2013 from Tonk. “After independence I am the only Muslim candidate, who won from this seat thrice,” she added.

Saud Saidi, who contested as rebel against Khan, said, “I am with the party and hopeful to get tickets this time. In last elections, workers were neglected and ticket distribution was not done rightfully.”

Zahida Khan, the Congress candidate from Kaman, who lost with a thin margin of 3,357 votes, said, “People who contested as independent from the community were sponsored by BJP. This time, people will reply to them and we will win.”

Congress Minority Cell president Nizam Kureshi held “ticket to outsiders” as the major reason for the party’s defeat. “BJP role is responsible to an extent, but to a larger extent it is because of candidate selection, which was wrongfully done,” Kureshi said, adding, “Minority community has become politically mature with time. If local candidates are given ticket, they will win.” He cited example of Jaipur’s Kishanpole seat, where the party has lost many elections. “It is because outsiders are given ticket,” said Kureshi, adding that similar situation prevailed in Adarsh Nagar, Tijara and Kaman constituencies.

Congress spokesperson and Jaipur district president of the party, Pratap Singh said, “These rebel and independents are BJP sponsored. Congress this time is alert and will make efforts that such things do not happen.”

Reacting over Singh’s claim, BJP spokesperson Mukesh Pareek said, “BJP has faith on party candidates and does not need to support any other candidate. The party candidates are selected on the basis of workers and voters.”

First Published: Oct 31, 2018 14:00 IST