Muslim votes a key factor in Karimganj electoral battle

Karimganj (Assam): Muslim votes are expected to be a deciding factor in at least four of the five Assembly constituencies in south Assam's sensitive Karimganj district, bordering Bangladesh, which goes to poll on April 4 in the first phase.

As many as 62 per cent of the 1,41,941-strong electorate in South Karimganj Assembly seat are Muslims and their votes will determine the outcome of the election, observers say.

The constituency is set to witness a triangular contest between sitting Congress MLA and parliamentary secretary Sidiq Ahmed, Sipra Gun, BJP nominee and vice-president of All-India Yuva Morcha, and Iqbal Hussain of the Trinamool Congress.

Although Gun is virtually out of the race, Hussain, a dissident Congressman, is expected to give a stiff fight to Ahmed as he is regarded to be a strong contender by virtue of being a close confidant of minister Gautam Roy.

Hussain, after being denied a Congress ticket, joined the Trinamool.

"In the last five years, I have nurtured my constituency like a mother does for her child and I am very optimistic," Hussain said.

In neighbouring Badarpur constituency, as many as 58 per cent of the 1,28,650-strong electorate are Muslims, and the race will be confined to the Congress, All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF) and BJP nominees.

Congress' Jamaluddin is pitted against AIUDF's Halauddin Choudhury and BJP's Biswarup Bhattacharjee.

The sitting MLA of Congress is Anwarul Haque and although he sought re-nomination, much to his dismay, the party decided to shift him to Borkhola constituency of neighbouring Cachar district.

Promising not to harm the prospects of the Congress candidate, Haque claimed he had bright chances of sweeping the poll.

In the North Karimganj constituency, there are 48 per cent Muslims among 1,57,152 voters.