Ex-DGP Khandwawala among partys probable candidates
For the first time,the state BJP is said to be considering fielding Muslim candidates in Assembly elections which includes former DGP Shabbir S Khandwawala and former additional DGP Abullah Ibrahim Saiyed.
The ruling party had not fielded a single Muslim candidate in the 2002 and 2007 Assembly polls.
While state BJP leaders were tightlipped about the candidature of the two former police officers,Saiyed said he was ready to shoulder whatever responsibility the party would give him,including contesting elections. Saiyed was fielded in the 2009 Ahmedabad Municipal corporation (AMC) elections from Muslim-dominated Sarkhej ward but lost to the Congress. The party had projected him as a mayoral candidate.
Khandwawala could not be contacted despite repeated attempts.
The BJP had fielded about 200 candidates in district panchayat and other local bodies elections and 160 of them won.
Modi is seen to be keen on mending his anti-Muslim image as he seeks a bigger role on the national stage. If he succeeds,it would also blunt the edge Bihar CM Nitish Kumar has over him in terms of their prime ministerial prospects.
Meanwhile,other major political parties in the state have begun the process to identify the Assembly seats with 15 to 30 per cent of Muslim population to field Muslim candidates there.
The Congress,which has always been a beneficiary of the Muslim votes,is under pressure to field more Muslim candidates this time. Though state Congress leaders say winnability would be the only criterion for allotting tickets,the partys minority cell in the state is reported to have submitted a list of 14 Muslim candidates. In 2007 elections,Congress had given tickets to five Muslim candidates and all of them had won three from Ahmedabad city alone,one from Wankaner in Rajkot and another from Vagra in Bharuch district.
The JD-U,which on Saturday declared to contest 50 Assembly seats in the state in polls due at the end of the year,has is fielding candidates from constituencies with some Muslim population. Its national general secretary Chandra Raj Singhvi,who is in the state,told reporters that Muslims were natural allies of his party. He had also brought along with him a senior JD-U Muslim leader from Bihar,Javed Raza,to make inroads into the Muslim electorate.
The Samajwadi Party,which too has decided to contest Assembly polls in the state,is set to field candidates from Muslim-dominated constituencies.
Its state unit president Surendra Yadav,who hails from Azamgarh in UP,has been very active for the last few months.