BENGALURU – Muslims in Karnataka, who comprise a significant group in terms of numbers, are feeling the heat of polarisation politics. The community, which has backed the Congress since Independence, is now tilting towards other emerging political parties to stay relevant.
Under the BJP government, the state passed through the hijab crisis which attracted international attention and divided the community at the school and pre-university levels. Following this, calls to boycott Muslim traders in the premises of Hindu temples and revenge killings have shattered their mindset.
The entire community had to bear the brunt for the action of a few fringe elements who carried out the Mangaluru cooker blast and stabbed Hindu activists over the installation of Veer Savarkar’s flexes in the 75th year of Independence.
The investigations by the Karnataka police and the National Investigation Agency into the spate of incidents of violence cornered them.
The BJP government headed by Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai sent out a further message of alienation by visiting only the residences of Hindu victims who were BJP activists and not even bothering to visit the Muslim victims.
Even as the opposition raised a hue and cry over this, the BJP government did not bother to issue any clarification in this regard. Karnataka Congress president D.K. Shivakumar said that the Muslim community does not deserve this hatred, they have contributed equally to the country.
However, the tone was set for the assembly elections and the Congress had also taken the bait. Hindu candidates were preferred over Muslims while allotting tickets considering the polarisation of votes affecting the chances of victory.
Mohammad Haneef, senior journalist and author, told IANS that Muslims have stopped blindly trusting the Congress party. “The demand was made to the Congress before elections to allot at least 30 tickets to Muslim candidates in 224 seats. The community leaders hoped that at least 22 tickets would be allotted. The Congress is actually fearing the BJP,” he said.
He stated that Muslims blindly voted for Congress candidates belonging to other communities and religion. However, others won’t vote for the Congress candidates who are Muslims. They (Muslims) are looking out for parallel options wherever the Congress came in third place to stop communal forces from coming to power.
Haneef said that this has been discussed by religious leaders and a decision has been taken. In constituencies like Channapatna and Dasarahalli, the JD(S) is a better option for Muslims than the Congress. Not only Muslims, even Jains, Buddhists or any other representatives from the 20 per cent population of minorities were not to be seen in the BJP cabinet.
The Congress has allotted tickets to 14 Muslims out of the 224 assembly seats. Most of them are senior leaders who can win on their own. The party has fielded Yasir Ahamad Khan Pathan against Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai in Shiggaon constituency.
Karnataka Congress leader Tanveer Sait representing Narasimharaja in Mysuru, U.T. Khader representing Mangaluru (Ullal) in Dakshina Kannada, Zameer Ahmad winning continuously from Chamarajpet in Bengaluru are mass leaders who have transcended the barriers of religion and reached out to all sections. Rizwan Arshad representing Shivajinagar is emerging as another mass leader with a clean image.
The BJP has not allotted tickets to any Muslim.
The JD(S) has made C.M. Ibrahim the state president of the party. It has given tickets to 23 Muslim candidates this time.
Meanwhile, amid all the divisive talk and tension in the state, the news of Tabassum Sheik emerging as the topper in the II PUC (Class 12) board exams in the Humanities stream has gone a long way in spreading positivity across the state. -IANS