"The Congress party has always been a unifying factor. Ticket distribution is done based on winnability and not whether he or she is a Muslim or whether one belongs to caste A or B. The Congress has tried to distribute tickets by taking all communities and the spirit of national integration together," Congress candidate in Jamnagar City Ashok Lal told UNI."There is no soft-Hindutva from our side," he said.
According to Congress sources, on average, Muslim candidates’ performance in Gujarat has been always poor."This is not new. Even in 1990s, the Muslim candidates fielded by Congress drew only 2.6 per cent of votes," local party leader Salimbhai Bakerywala said in Rajkot.
In 2012 - five years back - from the seven Muslim candidates only 2.37 per cent of voters preferred to vote for minority candidates.This is in contrast to about 9.7 per cent of Gujarat population being Muslims.
In 2002 - immediately after anti-minority post-Godhra mayhem, Muslim candidates by Congress had garnered only 1.40 per cent votes.This had slightly increased to 1.9 per cent in 2007.Interestingly, Muslims in many constituencies this wonder express surprise as to why and how - the Congress party has played up 'soft Hindutva'."Rahul Gandhi visited number of temples. The Congress leaders in their campaign make no mention of post-Godhra riots.Are they taking us for granted," wondered Ahmedabad-based trader Mofidul Ibrahimbhai.
Compared to Muslims, the Congress share of OBC candidates this year increased to 50 from 42 in 2012.This is largely seen as party's calculation to rope in OBC votes. The Congress also played accommodating role to keep Dalit leader Jignesh Mevani in good humour. It shifted Vadgam MLA, Manibhai Vaghela, to Idar SC seat and announced that it would not field any candidate in Vadgam reserved seat where Jignesh Mevani is contesting as an independent candidate.By coming together with Alpesh Thakore, the Congress is also eyeing Thakor, Kshatriya, Koli and other smaller caste groups. Surprisingly to many, the Congress has fielded only 45 Patidars while BJP has named 49 from the politically sensitive caste.
"Looking at the ticket distribution, both parties have gone more by pragmatism and have not been influenced by the Patidars' stir," one Rajkot-based Law College teacher said. In the BJP list among the OBC candidates, the number is 49 - slightly less than 51 OBC candidates fielded by the saffron outfit in 2012. Like last assembly elections in 2012 - the BJP list of candidates for 182-member assembly has no Muslims.(UNI)