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Home > Election Analysis > The Muslim Factor in 2014 Lok Sabha Polls

The Muslim Factor in 2014 Lok Sabha Polls

It is high time call off the bluff of Muslim vote bank politics. The Dalits like to vote the party that favors them, so are the Hindu caste groups, and even their Jatis are doing the same. Everyone wants to seek affiliation with the nearest similar identities and try to influence the electoral process. There is nothing unusual about it; in fact such designs are encouraged by the political parties who give tickets to the candidates with significant electoral base.

However, when it comes to Muslims there is hue and cry raised about the vote bank politics surrounding them. The political parties in order to avoid mudslinging during electioneering process deny Muslim candidate their party ticket under such pressure. It is one of the reasons why Muslims are politically weak in the county, even though being electorally significant.

According to the census figures of 2011, Muslims are nearly 15 percent of India's 1.2 billion populations. However, this 15 percent is represented by only 30 Muslim sounding name MPs in the 15th Lok Sabha. This is just 5.5 percent of the 543 seats.

If Muslims are a monolithic community and form a vote bank, how can 15 per cent population have just 5.5 representations? It's high time such myth has to be unmasked, because it's meant to create a non Muslim vote bank.

Even though Muslims are barely a third of their share in the population in the Lok Sabha, their electoral influence is far greater than their actual representation. This has to be understood in terms of electoral arithmetic of the Lok Sabha seats. Out of 543 Lok Sabha seats, Muslim can actually influence 196 seats. How?

The pollsters have identified that out of 80 seats in UP, Muslims can influence 54 seats. Similarly in Bihar they can do so in 29 out of 40 seats, in West Bengal on 28 out of 42 seats, in Karnataka on 15 out of 28 seats, in Kerala on 14 out of 20 seats, in Maharashtra on 13 out of 48 seats, in Andhra Pradesh on 12 out of 42 seats, in Assam 9 out of 14 seats, in Gujarat 6 out of 26 seats and in Rajasthan, on 6 out of 25 seats. As a matter of fact Muslims have significant influence over 10 states out of total 28 states in India.

The above analysis has come from the percentage of Muslim voters in the Lok Sabha constituencies. There are 30 per cent Muslim voters in 35 LS seats. Here their number is around one in three voters or more. In 38 other seats, Muslims are 21 to 30 percent. In another 145 LS seats they are 11 to 20 percent. If all these are added, Muslim voters have the ability to influence the outcome of a whopping 218 LS seats.

Further, there are 5 to 10 percent Muslim voters in 183 LS constituency and 5 per cent in 142 LS seats. Such voters too can make significant impression on the electoral process. Ironically, until now, the Muslim vote has been most effective where it is around 10 percent of the electorate, big enough to sway the result in a multi-cornered contest, by going all in for a single candidate.

However, where Muslim's presence is over 20 percent and above, their votes have been mostly ineffective. This is because of a multiplicity of Muslim candidates that divide their votes. In such constituencies, there is often counter-polarization of non-Muslim votes that ensures victory to a non Muslim candidate. So the allegations of Muslim vote bank again falls flat, in such cases it's the other way round.

In 2014 LS polls, the battle grounds for Muslims are UP, Bihar and West Bengal. In these states Muslims are around 20 percent in overall population. In these states at stake are 111 out of 162 seats where Muslims can make difference. As such these results will make an impact on government formation after the 2014 LS polls.

The other states that are equally important to Muslims are; Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka, Kerala, Assam and Maharashtra. Here, at stake for them are 54 out of 138 seats. All together it makes 165 LS seats.

Given their electoral strength, Muslims definitely have the potential to make a significant impact on at least 165 seats. This is not to be confused with the seats that they can win. This number is for sure to be more than 30.

So the 2014 Lok Sabha election could be an interesting political battle ground to watch. This is especially in terms of knowing the Muslim representation in the 16th Lok Sabha.

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