Congress workers say top leaders unwilling to campaign in Muslim areas; BJP encourages Muslims to attend its public meetings
As the Congress embraces “soft” Hindutva in Gujarat, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday reached out to the Muslim community of the state.
In Bharuch, Modi accused the Congress of stoking a Hindu-Muslim divide. He said Bharuch and Kutch, two districts with significant Muslim populations, are economically the fastest growing districts of Gujarat. The PM went on to say how during the Congress rule, celebrating festivals comes with the apprehension of violence.
The PM’s comments(Gujarat polls 2017) come on the heels of a finely-tuned Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) outreach campaign among the minority as well as the majority communities in Gujarat, which has the Congress worried.
According to Congress workers as well as activists, the feedback is increasingly that several in the Muslim community, even if they do not vote for the BJP, might not turn up in adequate numbers to vote for Congress candidates.
Of the 43.3 million people eligible to cast their votes in the state in the forthcoming Assembly polls, Muslims make a bit over nine per cent of the electorate. The state will see elections on December 9 and 14.
According to internal estimates of political parties, Muslims comprise more than 10 per cent of the electorate in 65 of the 182 Assembly seats in Gujarat. Of the 65, Muslims comprise almost a fifth of the electorate on 20 seats.
In 2012, the BJP won 42 seats with a margin of almost 15,000 votes or less. The Congress has identified 30-odd of these seats it believes it can wrest from the BJP. With the Patidar community divided, several of the 30-odd seats are on the list of 65 where Muslims can be a factor if the BJP fails to get a consolidated Hindu vote. A low turnout of Muslim voters would hurt the Congress.