The much-touted Muslim card will play a role in 14 of the 48 Lok Sabha seats in the state. The community constitutes 10.6 per cent of Maharashtra’s population. It, however, has a slightly higher concentration in Northern Konkan, Khandesh, Marathwada and Western Vidarbha.
The Muslim community will play a deciding role in the 14 constituencies — including Mumbai — where they make up between 14 and 25 per cent of the local electorate. These seats are Dhule, Nanded, Parbhani, Latur, Aurangabad, Bhiwandi,Akola, Thane and the six seats of Mumbai.
The results here will spell out whether the Muslim community stayed with the Congress or switched loyalties seeking an alternative.
Of these 14 seats, eight are with the Congress at present, two with the NCP, one with the BJP and three with the Shiv Sena. Muslims in these areas have traditionally backed the Congress-NCP combine. The constituencies with the highest Muslim concentration like Dhule, Aurangabad, Akola where the vote share is over 20 per cent the polarisation has worked to BJP-Shiv Sena’s advantage, with non-Muslims with more aggressiveness consolidate voting for BJP-Sena. “It is a fallacy that Muslims are a monolithic society when it comes to voting. In high-concentration Muslim seats like Aurangabad, Dhule and Akola, Muslims have voted for the Shiv Sena-BJP as well. Muslims on their own cannot decide the outcome of results and I believe this will be seen when the votes are counted tomorrow,” said senior journalist and social activist Sarfaraz Arzoo.
The Congress-NCP combine will need the support of the community to retain its seats. Even a slight change in results in these nine seats could suggest that Muslims seem to have abandoned the Congress.
There has been an increasing sense of anger against the Congress-led UPA that has ruled the country for the last decade. Many feel that even though the government seems to have worked towards creating institutions, the fruits of their labour have not reached the Muslim population.
The antipathy against the Narendra Modi-led BJP has also meant that the majority of Muslims will not shift to the BJP. The performance of the Aam Aadmi Party in these constituencies will indicate whether Muslims have decided to test the latest entrant in the country’s electoral field.
“The Muslim vote has for long been taken for granted by political parties in the country. The community members this time around have decided to ensure that history is not repeated. Friday’s results will surprise many on how Muslims in the state have voted,” said Javed Pasha, a social activist and educationist from Aurangabad.