National

Did Verdict 2014 break the Muslim block-vote myth?

Aesha Datta New Delhi | Updated on November 24, 2017 Published on May 18, 2014

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A good portion of the community voted for the BJP; another chunk divided its votes

One of the biggest myths the 2014 general elections seems to have broken is of Muslims voting as a block for the candidate best placed to defeat the BJP.

Not only did they not do so, there is indication of selective voting by the community for BJP candidates.

The post-poll survey done by the Lokniti-Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) for CNN-IBN shows that 9 per cent of Muslims voted nationally for the BJP this time, against 4 per cent in 2009.

Also, the fact that the BJP won in nearly half of the 100-odd Lok Sabha seats with significant Muslim population could point to at least limited community support for the party.

For instance, BJP candidates in Delhi polled substantially higher votes in Assembly segments such as Ballimaran (Chandni Chowk) and Matiala (West Delhi). Even BJP President Rajnath Singh may not have won by a 2.73 lakh strong margin in Lucknow without some support from Muslims, especially Shias.

No strategic voting

On the other hand, Muslims clearly did not undertake strategic voting by casting their lot with candidates seen as the best bets to beat the BJP.

This is evidenced in a host of constituencies, especially in Uttar Pradesh.

Take Baghpat, where one would have presumed that Muslims would vote for Civil Aviation Minister and Rashtriya Lok Dal chief Ajit Singh, who enjoys support amongst the powerful Jat farming community. Instead, Ajit Singh came third, polling 199,516 votes.

The Muslims seemed to have voted mainly for the SP’s Ghulam Mohammed, who got 2,13,609 votes and came second behind the winner Satya Pal Singh of the BJP, who won by over 2 lakh votes.

In most seats in UP, the Muslim vote seems to have been divided between the SP, the BSP and the Congress, contrary to the belief of their voting tactically to defeat the BJP.

Reverse consolidation

However, Sanjay Kumar, Professor at the CSDS, noted that the BJP seemed to have done well in many constituencies with high Muslim population.

This is not because of Muslims voting for the party, but because of a reverse consolidation phenomenon — of Hindu upper castes, OBCs and a section of Dalits voting en bloc for the BJP, he said.

Thus, in Moradabad and Rampur — where Muslims account for roughly half the population — the Muslim vote got split between the SP, the BSP and the Congress and the winning candidates were from the BJP.

Ditto for Saharanpur and Bijnor. “The polarisation here has been of other communities/caste groups in favour of the BJP,” Kumar pointed out.

The biggest loser nationally, of course, has been the Congress. In most of the constituencies in which it may have banked on the vast

Complete trust-deficit

Muslim voter population, the party failed spectacularly this time — unlike in 2009, when it seemed to have benefited from tactic minority voting.

Sociologist Radhika Chopra said the results in Muslim-dominated constituencies reflect a complete trust-deficit in the Congress and its ability to solve social, political and economic problems. “Voters have not voted as Hindus or Muslims,” she observed.

A prominent activist for minority issues said that unlike what is usually presumed, Muslims do not vote en bloc, just as any other community. “Modi was the biggest threat for Muslims. If they didn’t vote en bloc against him now, when will they?” he asked.

“Further, even if Muslims come together and on the other hand even 20 per cent of the majority (Hindu) votes get consolidated, that gives a clear majority,” he said.

“The Muslim votes have been divided in most states.

“In Delhi Muslim votes got divided with the AAP, with the Trinamool Congress in West Bengal, with the SP and BSP in UP, with the RJD in Bihar and so on. In most cases it did not go to the Congress,” he said.

Published on May 18, 2014
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