Thursday, August 20, 2015

Eyes on Muslim population in Bihar: Will 1.75 crore Muslims tilt the balance in 2015 Assembly election?

As the crucial election for Bihar assembly approaches, the focus is on the Muslim electorate in the state.

The question is will Bihar Muslims solidly support the Nitish Kumar-led JDU-RJD coalition.

Or will Asaduddin Owaisi's entry into the state would lead to polarisation on communal lines.

Owaisi has targeted Seemanchal, a backward region that has a huge Muslim population, for his rally.

MIM's entry has energised a section of Muslim youth. There is a chance that in Seemanchal, there will be an affect on JDU-RJD's prospects because of Majlis. The possibility is that it will not only divide Muslim but will also lead to consolidation of BJP's core vote?

Bihar has over 1.75 crore Muslims, accounting for 17% population in State

Bihar has the third highest population of Muslims in the country, after Uttar Pradesh (UP) and Bengal (in numbers, not percentage). While UP has over 4 crore Muslims and Bengal has 2.45 crore Muslims.

As per 2011 census, population of  Bihar was 10.41 crore. The percentage of Muslims as per the latest census (religious figures released only a few months ago), the percentage was around 16.9 (roughly 17).

Till now, it was believed that Muslims would vote en bloc for the RJD-JDU-Congress coalition.

Hence, it was felt that their vote would not be divided unlike past when minorities' votes were divided between Nitish Kumar and Lalu Prasad Yadav's Rashtriya Janata Dal.

But, jointly, JDU-RJD-Congress have a support of over 50% electorate--at least, on paper.

It gives them the edge, as reflected in opinion polls too. However, the coming few weeks would determine if the 'secular forces' would take off or lose steam.

The BJP campaign is led by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. He is using his oratory and his tested skills to capture the imagination of the Biharis. A few more weeks and we will find out whom Bihar electorate hand over reins of the State.