Surat: Banners warning the Congress that it will not get Muslim votes if the community was ignored during ticket allocation in poll-bound Gujarat, have been put up in the city.
A local Congress leader said youth workers of the party put up the banners in the backdrop of media reports that the Gujarat Congress was likely to ignore Muslims in ticket allocation from an assembly segment here.
The banners surfaced today at several places of the old city, which falls in the Assembly segment of Surat-East, currently held by BJP MLA Ranjit Gilitwala. Gilitwala had defeated senior Congress leader Kadir Pirzada by a margin of around 15,700 votes in the 2012 elections.
The banners warn the opposition party, which is out of power in Gujarat for over two decades, not to ignore the minority community during candidate selection.
According to local Congress leader Firoz Malek, who is said to be one of the strong contenders for the seat, Muslim youths feel that despite their dedication and commitment to the party, the Congress might not give ticket to a Muslim nominee from Surat-East.
“Some news reports suggested Muslims may be sidelined this time by the Congress in ticket allocation. This has alarmed youth workers, who then made a representation to us about it. Though they have put up banners out of this fear and anger, we have convinced them to remove them,” the state Congress secretary said.
According to him, the Congress has a “golden chance” this time to defeat the BJP in Surat-East with a combination of Muslim, Vohra and Dalit votes.
Of the total 2.4 lakh votes in the segment, Muslims comprise around 84,000, while Vohras and Dalits number about 3,500 and 14,000, respectively, he said, adding all of them are with the Congress.
“As of now, we have pacified the youths and conveyed their feelings to the high command. If we combine all the votes of Muslims, Vohras and Dalits, we can say the Congress has a golden chance (to win) this time if a Muslim is given ticket. I feel such an opportunity should not be wasted,” said Malek.
Another Congress leader and local corporator Aslam Cyclewala said the Muslim workers fear the community was being sidelined by the party.
“The Muslims of Surat-East apprehend the community will be ignored in ticket allocation. Muslim youth workers feel the party must not walk on the path of the BJP. We are hopeful the high command will take into consideration this feeling,” said Cyclewala.
In the previous election, the Congress had given tickets to six Muslim candidates in Gujarat. Of these, two -Gyasuddin Shaikh and Mohammad Javid Pirzada – won.
Recently, Shaikh, elected from Dariyapur in Ahmedabad, wrote to the party leaders, seeking “proper representation” for Muslims.
“My opinion is that Muslims should get ticket on seats where they have a chance to win. I did not go into numbers. I only stressed on proper representation.
“If not to Muslims, the party can give tickets to secular Hindus so that our community feels there is someone who will care for us after winning,” he said.
The Congress is expected to announce its first list of candidates within the next two days. The Assembly elections in Gujarat will be held on December 9 and 14.