Sunday, Oct 02, 2022

In Madhya Pradesh, BJP’s Muslim councillors down by 22 per cent; tally nil in Bhopal, Indore

Of the BJP's total 3,468 councillors elected to 347 local bodies in the state, only 94 are Muslims as compared to 120 councillors from the community who were elected in the previous civic polls, in 2014-15. In both the polls, the BJP gave tickets to over 380 Muslim candidates.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj along with MP BJP President VD Sharma and other party leaders celebrate the party's victory in the second phase of local bodies elections, at BJP State headquarters in Bhopal. (PTI)

The recent civic polls in Madhya Pradesh saw a drop of about 22 per cent Muslim representation among the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s elected councillors, even though the party has always harped on its “Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas aur Sabka Vishwas” slogan.

Of the BJP’s total 3,468 councillors elected to 347 local bodies in the state, only 94 are Muslims as compared to 120 councillors from the community who were elected in the previous civic polls, in 2014-15. In both the polls, the BJP gave tickets to over 380 Muslim candidates.

In the local body polls held across Madhya Pradesh last month, the BJP won most of the corporations, municipalities and town councils.

In the civic bodies of the state’s capital Bhopal and its financial capital Indore, the BJP, however, does not have a single Muslim councillor despite the two cities having a sizeable Muslim population. Also, in a slew of other districts, including Khandwa, Dewas, Ratlam, Raisen, Rajgarh and Damoh, the Muslim representation dropped by half.

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In Bhopal, the party had given tickets to some candidates in Muslim-dominated areas, but none could win.

Significantly, over 90 per cent of the BJP’s Muslim nominees who emerged victorious in these civic polls were pitted against Muslim candidates fielded by other parties.

In Khandwa, the number of the BJP’s Muslim candidates dipped to four even though the party had won eight seats in the previous polls. In Sehore, the home district of Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, the party’s tally of elected Muslim councillors came down to five as against eight in 2014-15. In Ratlam as well, this figure plunged from 11 to five.


The BJP leaders attributed the decrease in the number of Muslim councillors to not only a “marginal decline”in the distribution of the party tickets to Muslim candidates but also to “Muslim voters giving a wide berth to the saffron party”.

When asked about the reduction in allotment of the party tickets to Muslims, the BJP’s Minority Wing in-charge Rafat Warsi said, “The tickets are distributed based on the winnability of a candidate and not on his religion. Any drop or increase in their distribution is determined only by the winnability factor.”

In Indore district, which had earlier several BJP’s Muslim councillors, the party did not give its ticket to any Muslim nominee this time.


At a BJP meeting on May 8, two month before the civic polls, the Rajgarh district president of its Minority Wing, Ashraf Qureshi, expressed his concern in the presence of Muralidhar Rao, the party’s Madhya Pradesh in-charge. From the dais, Qureshi requested the BJP leaders not to make any offensive remarks against the Muslim community during party meetings. “In the presence of the party’s Muslim workers, the leaders make anti-Muslim comments, which offend them.

Hum 10 logon ko Alpsankhyak vibhag me jorte hain aur 25 bhaag jate hain (We induct 10 Muslims into the minority wing and 25 leave it),” he said.

In Khargone, which witnessed communal violence on April 10 during a Ram Navmi procession followed by demolition of the Muslim houses by the district administration, the BJP did not field any Muslim candidate, even as more than seven Muslim candidates out of the Khargone city’s total 33 wards won as Independents. The AIMIM’s nominee Aruna Upadhyay won from the city’s riot-affected ward number 2.

Even in a district like Burhanpur, which accounts for a substantial Muslim population, the BJP gave tickets to only 13 Muslim candidates as against 17 in 2014-15. “The ticket distribution to Muslim candidates has come down in Burhanpur this time while the number of seats we won has remained the same,” said Manoj Ladve, the party’s district president.

In some other districts like Ratlam, where the BJP fielded the same number of Muslim candidates, 25, this time too, the tally of its winning candidates from the community declined sharply, to five from 11, according to the party’s Ratlam district general secretary Nirmal Katariya. “It is evident from the results that the Muslim community this time has distanced itself from the BJP. This is not to say that their votes have entirely gone in favour of the Congress but that there are several Independents who won with good margins,” he said.


The BJP leaders also said that in view of “Muslim reservation” over voting for the party, it had tied up with several Independent Muslim candidates and got their support after they won. At least 126 Muslim Independents won in these polls.

In Khandwa district, where the BJP gave tickets to 12 Muslim candidates this time as compared to 13 in the previous polls, four Muslims were elected as against eight in 2014-15. “One of the major factors for a dip in Muslim winners on BJP ticket was because several potential winners who had lost by marginal votes last time were denied party ticket – so they contested independently and won,” said Khandwa BJP president Sevadas Patel, while speaking to The Indian Express.


“There is an understanding amongst the Muslim community that voting for the BJP only creates a threat for minorities and so their voting has largely been along this line despite various central government schemes,” said Rajeev Khandelwal, the BJP president in Dewas district where the number of the party’s elected Muslim councillors dropped to 7 from 10.

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Although Muslims account for 6.57 per cent of the total population of Madhya Pradesh and are in sizeable numbers in the Vindhya and Malwa regions, the BJP has never given its ticket to any Muslim candidate in the Assembly or Lok Sabha elections in the state before 2018. It was only in the 2018 Assembly polls that the party deviated from this practice to field Fatima Rasool Siddique, daughter of senior Congress leader Rasool Ahmed Siddique, from Bhopal North against the Congress’s eight-time MLA Arif Aqueel, who won again.

First published on: 20-08-2022 at 09:08:39 am
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