Secular votes will decide Bhatkal’s fate

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MANGALORE: Majlis-e-Islah-o-Tanzeem, an NGO which represents majority of the Muslims in Bhatkal assembly constituency, has decided to support the candidate from JD(S), Inayutullah Shahbandri – for obvious reasons.

With their population numbering in excess of 51,000 in this assembly constituency of Uttara Kannada, they cannot be ignored and their support or non-support is the crucial element in win or defeat of a candidate.

Parvez Kashimji, member of the organization and the former president of Bhatkal Town Municipality Council, says: Last time we supported the Congress as we did not have a choice. This time they should have given ticket to a Muslim candidate.

It was our demand last polls too. It does not matter who wins – but our support is for Inayutullah,” he observed. With candidates Congress, BJP and KJP being from majority Namdhari community numbering about 58,000, Muslim vote could well decide the winner here.

In 2008 polls, Inayutullah missed the ‘B’ form by a whisker and Parameshwara Tippayya Naik contested from JD(S). Tanzeem was vocal even then that a Muslim candidate should have been given ticket by the Congess, but relented at the last minute. Whereas in 2004 polls, the delayed decision by Tanzeem to support Congress cost it dear. Community members had then said there was confusion as Muslims were split between Congress and JD(S).

When Tanzeem finally decided to support Congress, the opposite camp remained mute. That poll, there was only 35 per cent polling from Muslim side and Congress candidate J D Naik lost the 2004 polls by a margin of 4,170 votes. For the 2008 polls, Tanzeem took an early decision and JD Naik won. But this time JD Naik is having a tough time with party workers not active o the field due to some internal tussle.

There are 1.83 lakh voters in Bhatkal constituency. Apart from Namdharis and Muslims there are about 9,000 Mogera (fishermen) and 16,000 Devadigas.

Close watchers of the polls say only if there is an anti-incumbency wave Congress may have it easy. The Muslim votes cannot be cent percent guaranteed to one candidate in spite of Tanzeem diktat. This time the atmosphere is fluid. Even the independent Mankala Vaidya from Mogera community, the richest candidate with Rs 12 crore assets, has a chance in case of a multiple split in votes. He is spending” well,” say observers.

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