The fate of Gujarat though has hardly been determined by the Muslim votes, this time the remission of Bilkis Bano gangrape case convicts again made people recall the horrific days of post-Godhra pogrom that took away more than 1000 lives, mostly of Muslims.
In 2002 assembly elections, the very year when the tragic Godhra incident happened following the burning of Sabarmati express, BJP came back to power with 127 seats breaking its earlier records. However, this time the situation became more interesting as AIMIM entered the fray after its notable performance in the municipality elections of Gujarat in 2021.
Asaduddin Owaisi’s AIMIM fielded 24 candidates in three municipalities- Godhra, Bharuch and Modasa and won 17 seats. Hoping for inroads in Gujarat, expecting a similar fate like Bihar where they won 6 seats, AIMIM this time fielded 14 seats in mostly Muslim dominated regions.
However, as the counting reaches its final stage, in most of the seats that have a formidable Muslim population BJP is leading by huge margins.
Here, we may have a look at the major seats where the share of Muslim population is around or more than 15%.
Surat East: This constituency has 26.4% Muslim votes. The major contenders of the seat are BJP’s sitting MLA Arvind Shantilal Rana and Congress’s Aslam Firozbhai Cyclewala. AIMIM has from this constituency fielded Wasim Ikbalbhai Kokhkar.
Interestingly, in this seat, till now Rana is leading by huge margin and has already got around 53% votes pushing him toward a grand victory. The Muslim factor in this seat didn’t work at all as AIMIM has got just around 1.2% vote till now.
Dariyapur: This constituency has 28.6% Muslim votes and is represented by Congress MLA Gyasuddin Shaikh. However, this time BJP’s Kaushikbhai Jain is leading from the seat by a margin of around 6,000 votes.
AIMIM’s candidate Hasankhan Samsherkhan Pathan here also got miniscule votes of around 1.42% till now. It is going to be another Muslim dominated seat that is all set to go to BJP.
Bapungar: In 2017, Congress candidate Himmatsinh Patel won this election by a good margin. This seat with 16.1% Muslim population nevertheless this time is going to BJP.
BJP’s candidate Dineshsinh Rajendrasinh Kushwaha already has garnered around 51% votes giving him a margin of more than 10,000 against Patel. Samajwadi Party’s Muslim candidate Altafkhan Jabbarkhan Pathan has got till now around 4% votes.
Bhuj: This constituency having 14.9% Muslim population has been a bastion of BJP. Though the party has not fielded its sitting MLA, their candidate Kehsubhai Shivdas Patel is leading by huge margin. He is ahead of his closest contender Congress’s Arjan Bhudia by more than 60,000 votes.
Interestingly, one can say that AIMIM has played a spoil sport in this constituency garnering almost 18% votes. AAP is at fourth position with around 5% votes.
Godhra: The centre of all the crisis that shook the nation in 2002 has a formidable Muslim population of 14.9%. Interestingly, this has always been a place of BJP MLA CK Raulji who has been winning this seat since 2012.
Raulji this time is leading around by 25,000 votes against Congress’s Rashmitaben Chauhan. Gaining 51.3% votes till now, he is all set to become third time MLA from the same constituency.
Notably, Raulji on being asked whether Bilkis Bano matters in this election told PTI that people have forgot those old days and moved far away from it.
Jamalpur-Khadia: This constituency having 29.3% Muslim population nevertheless has given some reasons for Congress to smile. The sitting Congress MLA Imran Khedawala is leading this seat by 14,000 margin and till now has received around 46% votes.
AIMIM’s candidate Sabirbhai Kabliwala however here has registered his presence and has got around 12% votes. BJP’s Bhushan Ashok Bhat has till now gathered 35.17% votes.
Danilimda: This constituency with 27.4% Muslim population also has given some relief to Congress. As per the recent updates Congress sitting MLA Parmar is leading by almost 14,000 votes. His closest contender BJP’s Nareshbhai Shankarbhai Vyas has till now garnered around 36% votes.
The AIMIM though couldn’t have any impact on this constituency, AAP’s Kapadiya Dineshbhai Somabhai has got around 15% votes standing at a distant second.
These trends in the seats further point out that Muslim votes in Gujarat hardly have any impact on the fate of the state. And it also discards the thesis that AIMIM has anything to do for the loss of Congress in crucial seats where it earlier won in 2017.
The question over Muslim relevance in Gujarat after 20 years of Godhra riots remain same.