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Published in the 1-15 Apr 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslim voting pattern

Apropos of Mr. I.K. Shukla's article on Muslim Voting Pattern (MG, 16-31 March), I appreciate his concern for Muslims to vote freely for any party of their choice. But that is precisely what the vast majority of Muslim voters are doing, voting for different parties in different states and in different Constituencies across one state. 50 years of participation has led them:

  1. Not to cast votes for Muslim parties and fronts which can never win (except in 2 seats in Kerala and 1 seat in AP).

  2. Vote for democratic and secular parties, be they Left, Congress, JD or DMK etc.

  3. Vote tactically so that their votes can help defeat the anti-democratic, anti-secular forces represented by the BJP and the Shiv Sena.
    It appears that Mr. Shukla is confusing pre-independence elections which were held under separate electorate for reserved constituencies. Now in the whole of country, there are only 11 Muslim majority constituencies including 4 in J&K and 1 in Lakshadweep.

Muslims have been consistently under-represented in Lok Sabha. Their present deprivation rate is 55%. This is because even secular parties do not put up Muslim candidates in Muslim concentration seats (+20%), assuming the electorate to be communally motivated. But the secular parties lose to BJP not because of the communal Hindu votes but because of division of secular voters, Hindus and Muslims, among more than one secular parties. On another plane, every other identifiable group - religious or caste is being wooed by various political parties to secure their block vote. If Muslims, in a given constituency, vote as a block, why object? After all, they are voting for a secular party.

Syed Shahabuddin 
President, AIMMM, New Delhi 

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