Minorities few and far between in BJP, Congress lists

November 14th, 2008 - 11:41 am ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata PartyNew Delhi, Nov 14 (IANS) With the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Congress having almost finalised their candidates for the assembly elections in six states, there is a common thread in their lists - low representation for Muslims and Christians.There are a total of 627 seats in the six states.

Of the 449 candidates the BJP has declared so far, eight are Christian contestants, all of them from Mizoram. There are 28 Muslim candidates, of whom 25 are from Jammu and Kashmir. The other three are from Rajasthan. Eighty percent of the population in Mizoram is Christian while Muslims form most of the population in Kashmir.

The Congress fares a shade better, having given 53 tickets to Muslims and 42 to Christians, out of the 610 nominations it has announced. The party has given two tickets to Buddhists.

Like the BJP, all but four of the 42 Christian candidates of the Congress are to contest the assembly elections in Mizoram. The state has 40 seats. The other four are divided equally between Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.

Similarly, as many as 27 of the party’s Muslim candidates are in Jammu and Kashmir, followed by 13 in Rajasthan, Delhi (six), Madhya Pradesh (five) and Chhattisgarh two.

Both the Congress and the BJP gave the same reason for inadequate representation of the minorities: victory prospects weighed more on their leaders’ minds than the religious background of a candidate.

The BJP’s minority cell president Shahnawaz Hussain had told IANS ahead of ticket distribution that the party would keep the minority communities, especially the Christians, in mind.

He had simultaneously said: “A candidate’s winnability will also be kept in mind.”

“It is true not many from the minority groups have got tickets, but the party has to see the winning chances of the candidate. We have to give preference to our old dedicated workers, who are more prominent in the region,” BJP vice president Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi told IANS.

The Congress, whose star campaigner in Chhattisgarh and former chief minister Ajit Jogi is a Christian, has found only two candidates from the community in the state.

Asked why the party had not given more tickets to minorities, Congress spokesperson Shakeel Ahmad told IANS: “We have always given the maximum representation to them, but in an election a candidate’s prospect of winning has also to be considered.”

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