Ahmedabad: The Gujarat Assembly, which will go to the polls on 9 and 14 December, has seen a sharp dip in Muslim representation in the state legislative Assembly in the past three decades, reflective of the sharp religious polarisation in the state.
Even though Muslims are close to 10 percent of the population, only two Muslims MLAs were elected to the 182-member Assembly in the 2012 election, which worked out to only 1 percent of the total legislative strength.
Both the BJP and Congress have, over the years, given fewer and fewer tickets to Muslim candidates, even though the size of the minority community is said to be substantial enough to influence the outcome of at least 18 seats.
This is a sharp fall as compared to 1980 when Muslim representation in the Assembly stood at 10 percent, which was equivalent to the size of the minority community. At the time, three Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat were Muslims.
In 1980, 17 Muslim candidates entered the electoral fray. A dozen won and entered the legislative Assembly. Three Rajya Sabha MPs from Gujarat were from also the minority community.
In 1990, only 11 Muslim candidates got tickets and only three won.
In the 2012 Assembly polls, only five Muslims competed for seats, of which two won.
Today, Ahmed Patel, political secretary to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, is the only Muslim MP from Gujarat.
His election was fiercely contested between the BJP and Congress earlier this year. Patel won by a wafer-thin margin.
Interestingly, Patel was one of the very few Congress candidates to buck the anti-Emergency wave in 1977 to win Lok Sabha elections from Bharoch in south Gujarat.
No Muslim represents Gujarat in the Lok Sabha.
In a highly-polarised polity with only two dominant players, the biggest challenge for Muslims has been to secure votes outside their own community: Especially of the opponent is from the majority community.
Gujarat Congress spokesperson Manish Doshi said: "The party gives representation to all sections of society." Doshi added that the party view was that Muslims should be given tickets in areas where they have a high chance to win.
Accusing the Congress of using minorities as a vote-bank, state BJP minority cell chief Mehboob Ali Chishti claimed Muslims in Gujarat want better education, housing and food rather than just representation.
Muslim representation in state Assembly.
1980 - 17 Muslims in the fray, 12 won
1985 - 11 Muslims stood for seats, 8 won.
1990 - 11 Muslims entered fray, 2 won.
1995 - 1 Muslim stood and won.
1998- 9 Muslims stood for election (including 1 from BJP who lost), 5 won.
2002 - 5 Muslims entered fray, three won.
2007 - 6 Muslims stood, five won.
2012 - Five Muslims stood, two won.
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Updated Date: Nov 23, 2017 14:25:34 IST