Muslim voters feel let down by Congress in State

Muslim voters feel let down by Congress in State

PTI file photo for representation.

Congress party's decision to deny a second ticket to a Muslim candidate in Karnataka has not gone down well with the members and leaders of that community.

Most of the leaders within Congress have openly expressed their ire against the party and have also ‘resolved’ to teach the grand-old party a lesson of not to take the members of the community for granted. Out of the 21 seats the Congress is contesting after a seat-sharing agreement with JD(S), the Congress has fielded only one Muslim candidate in Rizwan Arshad from Bangalore Central constituency.

The part, however, also made amendments to its 62-year-old unwritten rule of fielding a Muslim candidate in Haveri (erstwhile Dharwad South constituency). With party deciding to go with D R Patil in Haveri, there were high hopes among Muslim leaders and voters that Congress under its social justice ‘guidelines’ would give a ticket to a member from the minority community in Dharwad Lok Sabha seat.

Former minister Vinay Kulkarni became the last minute choice for the Congress, that resulted in disappointment among the majority of Muslim Congress leaders.

“We are feeling suffocated in Congress now,” said Imran Kallimani, State Vice-Chairman for Karnataka Pradesh Congress Committee Minority Cell and also the in-charge of the Coastal zone of Karnataka. “What kind of a message the party sent to Muslim voters by denying a ticket to a Muslim candidate in entire North Karnataka? The party could have easily fielded four Muslim candidates in Karnataka, instead they selected Lingayat candidates,” he said and added that though the community may not exodus from Congress, however, there is a fear among the leaders that the community may not come out in large numbers to cast their votes in favour of party.

Imran also claimed that most of the members of the community are not against BJP, but are wary of the ideology of RSS. “If the Congress continues to take Muslim voters for granted, there is no doubt that the community may slowly shift their loyalty to BJP, where there is a hope of getting some respect.”

Enemy within

Shakir Sanadi, one of the ticket aspirant from Dharwad, and Imran said that members of their own community denied a ticket to a Muslim candidate in Dharwad. “What was the need for the Anjuman Islam of Dharwad and Hubballi to write a letter to AICC president asking not to give a ticket to Muslim here as the elections would become polarised on religious line,” they said.

Sanadi said irrespective of the candidate BJP would have polarised the issue on religious line. However, had the party fielded prof I G Sanadi, there could have been a chance that along with minority community votes party could have bagged a good chunk of Lingayat votes.

Imran, who is more critical of the local Muslim leaders in Congress, said that by dragging Idga maidan issue in the letter the party has communalised the election. “Muslim leaders in Congress should stop frightening Muslim voters in the name of RSS. Few of our leaders are no less communal than BJP,” he said.

One of the office bearers of local Congress unit said that Kulkarni’s participation in separate Lingayat Community movement is expected to affect his prospectus and fielding of Muslim candidate could have benefited the party.

The messages being circulated in WhatsApp and Facebook is a sending cold shiver down the spines of Congress, especially Hubballi-Dharwad East MLA Prasad Abayya, whom the supporters of Congress blame for not standing for Muslim candidate in spite of winning his seat twice with the help of Muslim votes.

Not to worry

However, H-D City Congress unit General Secretary Rajath Ullagadimath said more than social justice the party was worried about winnability, so it selected Kulkarni, who is more determined this time. He also said that only a few Muslim voters are angry over the party, but once the clerics and mosques release fatwa asking the members to cast their votes in favour of Congress, all will fall in line, he said.