//Has the Muslim voter come of age?

Has the Muslim voter come of age?

Aasim Khan, CNN-IBN, May 14, 2006

New Delhi: The poll pundits might be divided on their analysis of the election results but as far as Muslim vote bank politics goes their assessment is unanimous, the tables have turned.

As the postscript of Elections 2006 is being written, there is an emerging trend of the Muslim vote bank in both Assam and Kerala.

“Muslims say that they have had enough. We have seen what you can deliver. Now they have an option. What they are trying to tell parties who have kept them captive for too long is that they shouldn’t be taken for granted,” political analyst, Centre for Study of Developing Societies (CSDS), Yogendra Yadav said.

In Kerala, it's the winds of change. In a decisive shift the Muslims have voted out nine of the 16 Muslim League candidates from its traditional bastions.

The party has been decimated by their own as over 48 per cent Muslim vote went to the Left Democratic Front (LDF) and the communists, those who call religion the opium of the masses, got the support.

However, in Assam, it's another story all together. Despite comprising almost one-third of the state population, the Muslim voter had been susceptible to the insecurities arising from the immigrant issue. But, not this time round.

The Asom United Democratic Front — a coalition of various Muslim groups in the state has won 11 seats and over 40 per cent Muslim vote, which is commendable for a party that was born just six months back.

In the other two states, the majority Muslim vote went to the winning party. So, is the myth of the Muslim vote bank politics dwindling?

“If you push anyone against the wall then he would not behave like a normal human being. The moment they are given space, they would behave like everyone else. The key issue about this particular election is that in none of the four states were Muslims being asked to make a choice between the BJP and the rest,” Yadav said.

The Muslim voter is coming of age, a remarkable development that will have far reaching consequences in this country.

(With inputs from Shakthy Edamaruku)