| Muslim voters queue up at Sabzibagh in Patna on Thursday. Picture by Nagendra Kumar Singh |
Patna Sahib has traditionally been the safest seat for the BJP but Thursday’s voting made it all the more obvious with minority votes splitting into two camps — Congress and Aam Aadmi Party (AAP).
The two-way split was distinctly noticed in Kashmiri Khothi, Sabzibagh, Khajekalan and Shahpur — all minority-dominated pockets. There was a sense of glee on the BJP workers’ faces operating in these areas.
As Muslim candidate Parveen Amanullah is in the fray from the AAP, the Muslim voters showed their inclination towards voting for her.
Patna Sahib constitutes 16,41,241 voters with around 7 per cent Muslim voters.
Mohammad Aslamuddin, 48, who runs a small grocery shop near Mangles Tank, said he would vote for a party which was not yet involved in any anti-Muslim controversy. Aslamuddin’s remarks also reflected there was a division among Muslim voters.
Middle-class Muslims favoured the Congress while those from the economically weaker sections looked like favouring the AAP.
Just outside the polling station at Shahpur locality in Patna City, Rahmmudin Khan said: “The spot on the shirt can be erased after washing the cloth but the spot which was there on our heart can never be washed off. Muslim will never forgive Narendra Modi for the Godhra riots, so there is no chance of my vote going to the BJP. My vote will go to someone who can stop Modi becoming the Prime Minister and Lalu is capable for that.”
Congress candidate Kunal Singh is contesting the election supported by the RJD in Patna Sahib.
Going by the trend of the Muslim voters, it was also found that most the Muslims did not even utter a word for the JD(U) or Nitish Kumar who broke the alliance keeping Muslim voters by his side in mind.
Zunaid Ahmad, who was supporting Nitish in the 2010 Assembly elections for his friendly approach towards Muslims, said: “We want a person who can stop Modi and I feel that Nitish is not fit for that. Muslims have to vote united against Modi.”
Zunaid also complained that the BJP candidate, Shatrughan Sinha, barely visits the locality and had done little to address local issues even when he has been representing the people in the Lok Sabha since 2009.
Another Muslim voter in Malsalami locality of Patna City stressed that minority vote has spilt.
“In our locality, most of the Muslims have voted for Congress while in areas like Khajekalan and Gauharpur, the vote has gone to the AAP,” he said on condition of anonymity.
This indicates that the winner would be from the BJP. Similarly, in the Fatuha Assembly seat, the Muslims equally voted for Congress and the AAP.