Congress gave tickets to 15 Muslims. The assembly had nine Muslims in 2008, rising to 11 in 2013 (nine from Congress and two from JD(S). The highest number of Muslims elected, 16, was in 1978, while the lowest was two under the prime ministry of Ramakrishna Hegde in 1983.
Major issues such as the abolition of the 4 percent reserve and the ban on Bajrang Dal ensured the consolidation of minority votes, congressional officials said. “The community was under attack by the BJP, and they tried to lift the reservation, forcing the community to vote for the Grand Old Party,” KPCC chairman Saleem Ahmed said.
Despite JD(S)’s attempt to court Muslims by fielding 23 candidates from the community this time, none won. The Owaisi-led group contested two seats and garnered just 0.02% of the total poll votes, without winning a single seat, while the Student Democratic Party of India, which fielded 16 candidates (11 Muslims, others 5), has left its mark.
The Congress manifesto pledge to ban Bajrang Dal was met aggressively by the BJP and Prime Minister Modi to describe it as contrary to Lord Hanuman and Hindu sentiment. “However, people voted against bad governance and rejected attempts at polarization and division,” congressional leaders said.
These are the first elections since the ban on the Islamist organization Popular Front of India. The Interior Ministry banned it for five years and notified it as an “illegal association” under the Illegal Activities (Prevention) Act last September. SDPI is the political wing of PFI.
The two sides espousing the Muslim cause have tapped into perceived resentment following the disputes over the hijab, halal and Tipu Sultan.