New Delhi: The Muslim factor can be seen across many of the 14 Lok Sabha seats in Assam and will play a significant role in steering the poll winds.
Karimganj, Silchar, Dhubri, Kokrajhar, Tezpur, Mangaldoi and Nowgong are the seats with substantial Muslim voters. In Karimganj reserved constituency of the Barak valley, there are nearly 8 lakh Muslim voters. The seat is represented by All India United Democratic Forum’s (AIUDF) Radheyshyam Biswas.
The AIUDF has fielded him again this time and he faces challenge from Kripanath Mallah of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Swaroop Das of the Congress and Chandan Das of the All India Trinamool Congress (AITMC).
Muslim voters will also play a major role in Silchar from where Congress MP Susmita Dev is seeking re-election. Apart from Muslims, the seat has sizeable Hindu Bengali as well. Silchar has around 5 lakh Muslims which is around 35 per cent of the electorate. The Muslim population is lowest perhaps in tribal dominated Autonomous District.
In Dhubri, AIUDF chief and perfume merchant Badruddin Ajmal is seeking re-election. Dhubri has nearly 13 lakh Muslim voters. The AIDUF, which gets support from the Muslims, is contesting in Dhubri, Karimganj and Barpeta. It is supporting the United People’s Party Liberal (UPPL) in Kokrajhar which has over 5 lakh Muslim population.
Former MLA Rafiqul Islam is fielded from Barpeta by the AIUDF. The BJP has left Barpeta and Dhubri for ally Assam Gana Parishad (AGP). Dhubri will witness multi-cornered contest as Ajmal faces Zaved Islam of the AGP and Abu Taher Bepari of the Congress.
In Barpeta, AIUDF’s Hafiz Rafikul Islam faces Abdul Khaleq of the Congress and Deepak Das of the AGP. In Mangoldoi, which has Muslim population of over 5 lakh, Dilip Saikia of the BJP is facing Bhubaneswar Kalita of the Congress and Sudhendu Mohan Talukdar of the AITMC.
In 2014 Lok Sabha polls, the BJP won Gauhati, Mangaldai, Tezpur, Nawgong, Jorhat, Dibrugarh and Lakhimpur seats. The AIUDF won in Barpeta, Dhubri and Karimganj. The Congress won Silchar, Autonomous District and Kaliabor while Kokrajhar was won by Independent. Gauhati has around 4.5 lakh Muslim voters. Tezpur has nearly 3 lakh Muslim voters while Nowgong over 7 lakh and Kaliabor around 5 lakh.