Cong Muslim leaders pitch for more tickets this time

Amid intense lobbying in the Congress for tickets for the upcoming Assembly election in Karnataka, the party's prominent Muslim faces from the state are pitching for an increase in the number of seats to the community. They argue "inadequate" representation would send out a wrong message to the sizeable, but scattered, Muslim vote bank.

Sources said Muslim leaders from the state, including Minority Affairs Minister K Rahman Khan, former union minister C K Jaffar Sharief and newly appointed chief of the Congress election strategy committee C M Ibrahim have thrown their weight behind the demand. Several Muslim leaders from the state had a meeting here last Thursday and the collective view was that one ticket should be given to a Muslim in each of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies.

The view, sources said, has been conveyed to the leadership. Muslims constitute around 13 to 14 per cent of the state's population and the argument was that unlike Vokkaligas and Lingayats, there would not be a four-way split in their votes. The party had fielded 16 Muslim candidates in 2008, out of which eight won.

"While the BJP, Congress, JD(S) and KJP ó B S Yeddyurappa's party ó all vie for and can hope to get a share of the Vokkaliga and Lingayat votes, the Muslim vote can either go to the Congress or the JD(S). So the Congress needs to send across a clear message to the community and give more representation to Muslims as well as other minority groups," a senior party leader said.

The Congress is already struggling hard to balance group and caste equations with almost all of its Karnataka heavyweights seeking tickets for their loyalists. The mad race for tickets notwithstanding, Muslim leaders feel giving adequate representation to the community and other minority groups would give the party an edge over JD(S).

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