'Muslim apathy' doesn’t matter: Zaffar Sareshwala

The turnout in Muslim-dominated constituencies kept rising through the elections of 2009, 2014 and 2019, but this time, in most of them, it has dipped

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Surajit Dasgupta
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A strange thing is happening in the Lok Sabha elections of 2024. This rarely happened in the history of Indian democracy: Muslims don't appear to be voting enthusiastically. Data shows that the turnout in Muslim-dominated constituencies kept rising through the elections of 2009, 2014 and 2019, but this time, in most of them, it has dipped.

In all Muslim-dominated seats, the voter turnout in 2024 is less than what it was in 2019 and before. This is a clear pattern that has emerged from the 11 seats of Uttar Pradesh and three of Bihar that have voted already.

Are Muslims not excited about this vote? Does the data mean that the Muslim voters are not excited about the 2024 election? Or is it that the Muslims are still voting in large numbers but other communities aren’t, which is why the total figure has dropped?

The Muslim vote holds the key in Rampur (50.57%), Moradabad (47.12%), Bijnor (43.04%), Saharanpur (41.95%), Muzaffarnagar (41.30%), Amroha (40.78%), Balrampur (37.51%), Bareilly (34.54%), Meerut (34.43%), Bahraich (33.53%), Shrawasti (30.79%), Baghpat (27.98%), Ghaziabad (25.35%) and Siddharthnagar (29.23%) in UP.

Muslims play a crucial role in Seemanchal and the geographical arc that stretches from Kishanganj in eastern Bihar to Kashi (Varanasi) in eastern UP. This region, which runs along the India-Nepal border, covers more than 20 constituencies with a significant Muslim population ranging from 18% to 70%.

Seats dominated by Muslims in 2009, 14 and 19

In 2009, this was the result from Uttar Pradesh:

UPA

SEATS

NDA

SEATS

TF+

SEATS

Fourth Front

SEATS

Others

SEATS

INC

21

BJP

10

BSP

20

SP

23

IND

1

RLD

5

TOTAL (2009)

21

TOTAL (2009)

15

TOTAL (2009)

20

TOTAL (2009)

23

TOTAL (2009)

1

TOTAL (2004)

9

TOTAL (2004)

11

TOTAL (2004)

19*

TOTAL (2004)

35*

TOTAL (2004)

6

In 2014, this result came out:

Alliance/Party

Seats

Popular vote

2nd Position

3rd Position

Contested

Won

+/−

Votes

%

±pp

NDA

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)

78

71

Increase 61

3,43,18,854

42.63

Increase 24.80

7

0

Apna Dal

2

2

Increase 2

8,12,315

1.0

0

0

-

-

Samajwadi Party

78

5

Decrease 18

1,79,88,967

22.20

Decrease 1.06

31

30

-

-

Bahujan Samaj Party

80

0

Decrease 20

1,59,14,194

19.60

Decrease 7.82

34

42

UPA

Indian National Congress

66

2

Decrease 19

60,61,267

7.50

Decrease 10.75

6

5

Rashtriya Lok Dal

8

0

Decrease 5

6,89,409

0.86

Decrease2.4

1

1

 And in 2019, the result was this:

Alliance

Name of Party

Vote Share %

Alliance vote share%

Change

Seats won

Changes

National Democratic Alliance

Bharatiya Janata Party

49.98%

51.19%

+7.35%

62

Decrease9

Apna Dal (Sonelal)

1.21%

+0.2

2

Steady

Mahagathbandhan

Bahujan Samaj Party

19.43%

39.23%

-0.34

10

Increase10

Samajwadi Party

18.11%

-4.24

5

Steady

Rashtriya Lok Dal

1.69%

-0.83

0

Steady

United Progressive Alliance

Indian National Congress

6.36%

6.41%

-1.17

1

Decrease1

 

Within UP, the Muslim-dominated seats of Amroha, Bijnor, Moradabad, Muzaffarnagar, Nagina, Rampur, Saharanpur and Sambhal went to either the Samajwadi Party or the alliance it was a part of when the voter turnout was high in these constituencies.

When the Samajwadi Party, Bahujan Samaj Party and the Congress fought one another, the BJP won even Muslim-dominated seats in 2019, indicating a split of the Muslim vote.

The BJP won 62 of 80 Lok Sabha seats in UP without fielding a single Muslim candidate in 2019. Out of these, five seats are those that have more than 40% share of Muslims in the population.

In addition to constituencies with significant Muslim populations, there are a minimum of 19 Lok Sabha seats where Muslims make up 30-40% of the population and 48 seats where they constitute 20-30% of the population.

The BJP has performed well in these 67 seats. Analyses of the two previous Lok Sabha elections said that the consolidation of Hindu votes by the saffron party rendered Muslim votes ineffective. But what if Hindus are not consolidated in 2024?

Interestingly, even in 2009, without a ‘Modi wave’, the BJP won 18 of these seats where the Muslim population ranged from 30-40% and 20-30%, respectively.

During the 2014 Lok Sabha election, the BJP secured victory in 39 of these 67 seats.

In the 2019 election, the BJP once again emerged victorious in 39 of these constituencies.

Recall that Prime Minister Narendra Modi recently remarked: “How long will the Muslim community think in terms of putting someone on the throne or dethroning someone? Should they not think that if they don’t change their mindset, then future generations of the community may suffer.” So, has PM Modi been successful in moulding Muslim minds?

uttar pradesh bsp Bihar Congress Samajwadi Party vote muslim election BJP