No room for Muslims in BJP line-up

National

And former minority cell president Sajjad Hira said: "Sadbhavana was not merely about election tickets. Under the circumstances, where there is a neck-and-neck fight, no party would like to lose even a single seat."

The BJP did field Muslims in municipal and panchayat elections. "This was because the party felt they could win those elections," Hira said.

The Congress has fielded Muslims in three first-phase seats ó Vagra in Bharuch, Wankaner in Surendranagar and Surat East. It has also nominated a Muslim to Bhuj in the second phase, the list for which is not yet complete.

It is parties with little or no presence in Gujarat that have fielded a high number of Muslims. The Samajwadi Party's 53 candidates so far, covering both phases, include 17 Muslims. It is making its Gujarat debut. The BSP was here last time, managing 2.9 per cent of the votes, and has now fielded eight Muslim candidates in its first list, with state party vice-president Ishwarbhai Solanki promising more in the second list in a day or two.

The JD(U), the BJP's ally in Bihar but on its own in Gujarat, has fielded a Muslim, Altaf Patel, from Vagra, a constituency where the community accounts for more than half the voters. The party has 53 candidates in the first phase and Chandra Raj Singhvi, its in-charge for Gujarat, said there would be Muslims in the second phase too.

Ramvilas Paswan's LJP has fielded 12 Muslims in the first phase, with state president Mukesh Gurjar promising more in the second.

At least three Muslims have filed nominations as Independent candidates for the first phase.

MUSLIMS IN POLLS, 2012

17 Samajwadi Party

12 LJP

8 BSP

4 Congress

1 JD(U)

3 Independents

Samajwadi Party list covers both phases with more names to come; Congress's Muslim candidates include one for second phase

... contd.

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