Gujarat verdict: 4 Muslims leading, 3 of them in Hindu-majority seats
The new Gujarat Assembly is likely to have four Muslim MLAs, a jump of three from 2012. There are two significant aspects here. First, there has been almost no division in Muslim votes. In the past, BJP has managed to win Muslim-dominated seats due to the presence of Independent Muslim candidates.
Second, Muslim candidates from the Congress are leading even in seats like Wankaner, where Muslims form less than 30% of the population. This marks a break from the belief that in Gujarat, Hindus will never vote for a Muslim candidate. Muslim candidates seems to have succeeded in getting Hindu votes, particularly from Dalits and a section of Patidars and traders.
Muslim candidates from the Congress are leading in the following seats:
Congress candidate Imranbhai Yusufbhai Khedawala has won by over 29,000 votes. Muslims form over 50% of the population in this seat. However, the BJP's Bhushan Ashok Bhatt had won this seat last time by 6331 votes last time. This was largely because of the presence of an Independent candidate Sabirbhai Kabliwala, who got 30,000 votes. Kabliwala backed out this time, under pressure from the community and this has helped the Congress win by a huge margin.
In Ahmedabad's Dariapur seat, sitting MLA Gyasuddin Shaikh has won by 6200 votes defeating his BJP rival Bharat Barot. Muslim form 45% of the electorate here. An Independent candidate Raju Momin was expected to play a spoiler for the Congress but that didn't happen as he secured only 1200 votes. Instead, Shiv Sena candidate Kunjalbhai Patel got 1300 votes, many of which would have gone to the BJP.
Sitting MLA Mahmadjavid Abdulmutalib Pirzada is leading by over 3000 votes in this seat. Like Bhuj, Wankaner is a Hindu majority constituency with Muslims forming only 23% of the electorate in the seat. However, the Peerzada family, who are Momin Shia Muslims, have dominated this seat since decades. Abdulmutalib Pirzada, father of Mohammadjavid Peerzada, had even defeated Keshubhai Patel in 1972. Patel was a Jana Sangh candidate back then.
The result was a repeat of 2012, with a Koli spoiler helping Pirzada win the seat. Last time it was a Koli candidate from Keshubhai Patel's GPP called Parshotam Bavarva, who got 20% and harmed BJP's chances. This time an Independent candidate Gordhan Saravaiya, a Koli, got 25000 votes, helping Pirzada win. The Pirzadas, on their part, also have some support from the Koli community.
In both these elections, BJP fielded Jitu Somani, who belongs to the Thakkar community, which is said to have alienated Koli voters.
Two time MLA Iqbal Patel has wrested this seat from the BJP. He is leading by over 4500 votes. Muslims are over 40% of the population in this seat. Iqbal Patel has won this seat in 1998 and 2007, while his wife Rashida Patel won in 2002. However, he had lost the seat in 2012. Amit Shah had addressed a rally in Vagra in this campaign and the BJP had tried to play the communal card here. But it doesn't seem to have worked.
Congress candidate from Bhuj in Kachchh, Adambhai Chaki, put up a good fight and was leading in many rounds against sitting MLA Nimaben Acharya of the BJP but he lost out towards the end. He got over 70,000 votes in a seat where Muslims are just about 20% of the electorate. It seems that Chaki did secure some Hindu votes, particularly among Dalits, Patidars and traders despite an intense communal whisper campaign against him in the area.