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Defeat of Vocal Prominent Muslims Shrinks Space for Minority Voice

Waquar Hasan | Clarion India

NEW DELHI – The 2024 Lok Sabha elections have thrown an unexpected result surprising pollsters and political parties across the country with the Bharatiya Janta Party (BJP) failing to get a majority on its own. Similarly, the defeat of some prominent Muslim candidates has also surprised many.

Badraduddin Ajmal, president of All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and a prominent Muslim politician and businessman, was defeated by Congress’s Rakibul Hussain in Assam’s Dhubri constituency. Ajmal, a three-time MP from the constituency, was defeated by a record 10.12 lakh votes.

Hussain, who is the deputy leader of the Congress Legislature Party in the state, got 14,71,885 votes, while Ajmal secured 4,59,409 votes. Ajmal’s party did not win any seat in the current elections in which the BJP secured nine seats while the Congress candidates won in three constituencies. Assam has 14 Lok Sabha constituencies out of which two candidates won from other parties.

Reacting to his defeat, Ajmal said “…I congratulate him that people gave him a mandate. He should accept it. We accept it too. People made me win thrice, they have made him victorious once…I think the overall India result is very good. The people of India were living in difficult times, they feared that the Constitution would be changed…It felt that the Constitution would be changed as soon as it was ‘400 paar’. That threat is no more. It is not that easy now. So, we are happy…The Opposition would be very strong and the ruling party would not be able to act arbitrarily…”.

The defeat of Ajmal, a prominent Muslim face in the state, is striking as Muslims account for 34 percent of the total population of the state. However, a controversy erupted when Ajmal praised Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma despite the latter’s open ranting against the Muslim community.

Addressing a public meeting in July 2022, Ajmal said: “Our CM was a good man, and he is still a good man. Sometimes, some people show him videos showing what Yogi Adityanath (Uttar Pradesh chief minister) is doing. Then, he gets influenced and tries to do similar things.”

“The CM earlier used to be with us only. He is even familiar with kitchens in Muslim households. There is no one wiser in Assam. He knows what kind of chocolates Muslim people want, and ensures to keep feeding them from time to time,” he added.

Not just Ajmal, Imtiyaz Jaleel, a prominent leader of All India Muslim Majlis-e Ittehadul Muslimeen, lost from Aurangabad constituency in Maharashtra against Eknath Shinde’s Shiv Sena candidate Sandipanarao Asaram. Jaleel, who was seeking a second term from the constituency, was defeated by over 1 lakh votes.

Jaleel secured 3,41,480 votes as against Asaram’s 476130 votes. Uddhav Thackeray’s Shiv Sena and Vanchit Bahujan Agadi (VBA) respectively secured third and fourth slots.

Similarly, Akhtarul Iman, AIMIM president in Bihar, also failed to gain the expected results from Kishanganj. Iman, who is a prominent Muslim voice in Bihar, came third securing 3,09,264 votes while Congress’ Mohammed Jawed won getting 4,02,850 votes. JDU’s Mujahid Alam got second position getting 3,43,158 votes.

AIMIM, which had two members in the outgoing Lok Sabha, has now only one MP Asaduddin Owaisi.

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