ibnlive » India

May 21, 2008 at 02:59pm IST

Cong, BJP fight for Muslim voters in Hubli

Hubli (Karnataka): Riyazuddin Nazir, Asadulla Abubakar and Mohammad Asif were three faces that caught the country's attention in January, when they were arrested for suspected terrorist activity. They are also the reason for Muslims clerics like Maulana Mohd Ali Qazi to be worried.

Over the last few weeks, Qazi and other leaders of the community have been holding micro-level meetings in different areas with one message.

"When we feel that we are unnecessarily being blamed then we would definitely like to give our franchise and power of voting to those candidates, those parties who can give us protection," says Qazi.

Hubli-Dharwad have traditionally been an RSS stronghold and this time, the BJP is harping on terrorism as an election issue, accusing the UPA Government at the Centre of failing to control it.

BJP says security is a big concern in this election. However, the security issue has left the minority voters shaken, which is a good enough reason for the Congress to take advantage this election.

Congress has brought in Muslim heavyweights like Jaffer Sharief — who is the Congress Manifesto Committee Head — to campaign extensively for the third phase of polling.

"Minority is tortured and targeted by the BJP. Someone has to instill confidence in them and Congress gives confidence to minorities," Sharief says.

It's a direct fight between the Congress and the BJP in the communally sensitive region of Hubli, where there are an almost equal number of Lingayat and Muslim voters. Both parties are vying for the people's favour by pitting one against the other.