Bhopal: The ruling BJP in Madhya Pradesh has given ticket to only one Muslim candidate for contesting the November 25 state Assembly elections for which it is being criticised by Opposition party Congress.
The Congress has criticised the BJP while alleging that the party is trying to "fool" the community despite Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan embracing the community during festivals even as the saffron party has defended itself saying that it does not believe in religion or caste-based politics.
Former Union Minister Arif Baig (78) is the lone Muslim nominee for the BJP from the North Bhopal constituency from where the party won only in 1992.
In comparison to the BJP, Congress has fielded five candidates from the community from different constituencies to give representation to its traditional vote bank.
Besides Arif Aqueel from Bhopal North, Congress has also fielded Arif Masood from Bhopal Central, Abdul Majeed Khan from Rewa, Firoz Ahmed from Mudwara and Yusuf Kadapa from Jaora Assembly seats.
Interestingly, all the three Muslim candidates in Bhopal share their first name.
"We demanded nearly 20-22 seats for minority community in the state from the Congress and got a total of 10 tickets including five for Muslim candidates," Madhya Pradesh Congress minority cell president, Mohammad Salim told a news agency today.
"I am satisfied with the allotment of party ticket to the Muslim candidates this time as our major aim is to ensure the victory of Congress in the state at any cost," Salim said.
Criticising Chouhan, he said that though he "embraced the minority community during festivals and donned skull caps," it was a fact that his party has given ticket only to a single candidate in the entire state, which is an "attempt to fool the community."
"Though Baig is a senior leader, he won`t be able to cut much ice with the voters this time as he is not even having a team of dedicated workers," Salim said.
"If BJP is serious about Muslim welfare then it should implement the Sachhar Committee report in toto," he said.
However, defending his party, state BJP`s minority front president, Hidayatullah Sheikh said, "BJP never believes in giving ticket to candidates on the basis of religion or caste and it`s only criterion is winnability factor."
Justifying ticket to Baig, he said "One Arif Baig is enough to strengthen the voice of the entire community in the state and he will prove his mettle in the days to come."
"We have not demanded any particular number of seats for the community as we are against giving tickets on the basis of religion or caste," he added.
The five seats from where Congress has given tickets to the Muslim candidates, the party had won two seats - Bhopal North and Jaora - in 2008 while BJP was victorious on the remaining three -- Rewa, Bhopal Central and Mudwara.