September 27, 2021 12:45:24 am
In an apparent bid to woo the sizeable number of Muslim votes, the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has nominated eight candidates from the community for the October 3 election to Okha municipality in Devbhumi Dwarka district. This is two more than the previous election in 2016.
Election to 36 seats of the Okha municipality is due to be held on October 3 and counting on October 5. Total 85 candidates are in the fray. Besides the BJP and its main rival Congress, the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is also contesting from a majority of seats.
“We have tried to give fair representation to all communities. Hence the number of tickets given to Muslims is higher,” said Pradip Khimani, convener of the municipalities cell of Gujarat BJP.
“In 2016, we had fielded six Muslims and only one had won. Muslims account for almost 80 per cent of voters in ward No. 2 and Ward No. 5… So the party has given one more ticket each for Muslims in those wards,” said an insider.
This year, three out of four BJP candidates in Ward No.2 are Muslims. Similar is the case in Ward No. 5. The saffron party has fielded one Muslim candidate each in Ward No.3 and Ward No.7 also. “Ward No.3 and 7 are seats where Muslim voters are the largest electorate group but not as dominant as in Ward No.2 and 5. Therefore, the party has continued with the same strategy as the previous election,” said a party source.
There are 50,196 registered voters in Okha municipality where share of Muslim voters is estimated to be around 20,000.
The Congress, on the other hand, has already suffered a blow as seven of its candidates withdrew their nomination papers. Hence, the party is contesting only on 29 seats. Of the 29 left in the fray, 14 are Muslims. It has nominated Muslims on all four seats in Ward No.5, three for Ward No.4, two each for Ward No.2 and 3, and one each for Ward No.1, 6, and 7.
“We have chosen party candidates with focus on giving opportunity to young faces. Majority of our candidates are below 40 years of age,” Yasin Gajjan, president of Devbhumi Dwarka district unit of the Congress, said.
Okha municipality comprises port town Okha, Bet Dwarka—the island off Okha and Arambhda and Surajkaradi villages. In 2016, BJP had won 20 seats while Congress had won 16.
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