Mumbai: As Maharashtra braces itself for a five cornered contest post split in major alliances, the number of Muslim candidates entering the poll fray has gone up compared to 2009 elections.
While the total number of candidates fielded by the four major parties along with the MNS is 1,356 in the 288 Assembly constituencies this year as compared to 705 in 2009, the number of Muslim candidates contesting elections has also shot up to 45 against 19 in the 2009 assembly polls.
Muslim candidates now constitute 3.3 per cent of the total candidates fielded, which was 2.7 per cent in 2009.
Congress has fielded 19 Muslim candidates, highest for any party, this year, while it had brought only 12 candidates in the poll fray in 2009 elections. Congress had contested on 170 assembly seats in alliance with the NCP.
NCP has increased its number of Muslim candidates substantially to 16 . It will contest 286 seats this year. In 2009, the party had fielded four Muslims out of 113 seats it had contested in alliance with Congress.
Shiv-Sena's former ally BJP has brought in two Muslim faces, while in 2009, only one muslim candidate had contested the polls. It is contesting 257 seats this year.
The Shiv Sena, which had fielded one Muslim candidate in last assembly elections, this year too have one Muslim candidate out of 286. Sena had contested 160 seats in alliance with BJP in 2009.
The MNS which has fielded candidates in 239 Assembly constituencies as compared to 143 in 2009, has put up seven muslim candidates in the poll fray this time as compared to one in last assembly polls.
Malegaon constituency will see the highest number of 17 muslim candidates of various parties battling it out to enter the assembly this year.
The seat was won by Mufti Ismail Abdul Khaliq in 2009 who contested on a Jan Surajya Shakti Party ticket, but Khaliq this year, has filed his nomination on an NCP ticket.
There is only one non-Muslim candidate Rajesh Mangu More who will fight on the ticket of Mayavati-lead Bahujan Samaj Party in Malegaon.
The 288 seats will go to polls on October 15 and the counting is on October 19.