Muslims in Karnataka at the receiving end of politics of polarisation

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Muslims form one of the largest communities with a 13 per cent population in Karnataka. Leaked reports claimed that the census during the tenure of the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government put them ahead of the Lingayats and the Vokkaligas in terms of numbers.

The Karnataka legislature has seven MLAs from the Muslim community and all are from the Congress party. This is the lowest Muslim representation in the last decade. In 2008, nine Muslim MLAs were elected in the state.

In 2013, 11 Muslim candidates won, nine from the Congress and three from the JD (S). The highest Muslim representation (16 MLAs) was in 1978 and the lowest (2) was in 1983.

In spite of the numbers, Muslims are not being considered for tickets to contest the upcoming assembly elections in proportion to their numbers, even by the Congress party.

Analysts say that polarisation by the ruling BJP and Hindutva forces is the main reason for it. Starting from the hijab crisis, boycotting of Muslim traders to Azaan calls, the Muslim community has been targeted by the BJP.

The involvement of individuals and radical organisations of the Muslim community in the murders of Hindu activists in different parts of Karnataka and the cooker bomb blast case, has only made the situation worse for the community.

According to political analysts, Muslims can win in 21 assembly constituencies and play a deciding role in a large number of seats across the state.

Dr Chaman Farzana, a retired professor and national secretary of the All India Mahila Congress, told IANS that the Muslims have the largest population after the SC/ST communities in the state. They are more in numbers when compared to the Lingayats, Vokkaligas and Kuruba communities.

“Lingayats are demanding tickets to 71 seats from the Congress. The BJP will not even consider giving a ticket to any Muslim candidate and no other party is considering Muslim candidates generally. They can’t do anything as the BJP has polarised the society,” she explained.

“Earlier my grandfather won the Chitradurga MP seat. There was no polarisation then. People didn’t consider caste as a criterion to cast their votes. The community’s concern now is to defeat the communal BJP and the RSS in the elections by ensuring the victory of the Congress party,” she maintained.

The community is unhappy that representation is not given to them to contest the elections. “But, we have to sacrifice to ensure the victory of the Congress,” Farzana stated.

Congress MLA and former minister U.T. Khader told IANS that the concern of the community is that the government should act according to the Constitution. Every community and individual should be treated equally without government discrimination.

The present government is spreading hatred in the state. Once the government is formed it should not discriminate against people on the basis of religion. Only hate speeches are heard from the ruling party’s leaders. The government itself is making hate speeches. The communal issue has to be taken care of by the government. When the government itself becomes communal, who will care? Khader asked.

The feeling of alienation is there among the Muslim community but they are reposing faith in the Constitution and feel that the Congress is the only hope for them, Khader stated.(IANS)


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