New Delhi, Sept 29: Who will the Muslims in Bihar vote for. The Muslims constitute for 17 per cent of the votes and this is a huge number and could well be the deciding factor in the forthcoming Bihar elections. Although the JD(U) and the RJD are alliance partners, the fight between the two parties for a major chunk of the Muslim votes will be witnessed.
The BJP on the other hand would not want to lose out to all the Muslim votes. The BJP feels that the Nitish-Lalu combination may split the votes and it may well come to the NDA. Political analysts say that it is difficult to tell which way the Muslims would vote for this time and it looks as though it would be split.
The Muslim voting pattern in Bihar has witnessed changes over the years. While in the 1990s they have voted for Lalu Prasad Yadav in large numbers, over the years, they have gone with Nitish Kumar. The Muslims voted for Nitish in large numbers in the previous elections even though he was in alliance with the BJP.
The BJP feels that it may benefit from the split in the Muslim votes this time. The Muslim votes are divided in these elections between the RJD-JD(U) and the Congress. The BJP is well aware of the importance of these votes and has sent the RSS backed Muslim Rashtriya Manch workers to Bihar. The MRM has been tasked with meeting with the Muslim voters and also elders in the community.
Will Muslims vote for development?
A large number of Muslims in Bihar had rejected Lalu Yadav a few years back. The BJP says that if the Muslims vote for development then the party has no doubt about their votes. The BJP is focusing heavily in the areas of Kosi, Purunea, Bhagalpur and Kishenganj where the Muslim population is 30 per cent.
The BJP feels that where the Muslim votes are concerned the alliance of Nitish and Lalu will do more harm than good. The votes are bound to be split and the impression that we are getting is that Muslims do not want to be just a vote bank, but want development in Bihar.
Several Muslim dominated areas of Bihar are under developed and the BJP feels that there is a changing mindset among the Muslim voters. The BJP says that it has put up its best team to woo the Muslims and more importantly counter the propaganda by the opposition parties that the BJP is anti-Muslim.
The BJP would however bear in mind the voting pattern of the Muslims in the year 2014. As per the survey that was conducted by the CSDS-Lokniti, 60 per cent of the Muslims voted for the RJD-Congress combine while 21 per cent went with the JD(U).
A lot would depend on the mindset of the Muslims in Bihar who have generally voted as a collective group. The BJP says that there has been no attempt made this year by the Muslims in Bihar to vote against the BJP as the trend has normally been in the past.