Hijab row: Slim gains for SDPI, Congress to benefit in Karnataka Assembly elections
Muslims in coastal Karnataka feel only the GOP can protect their interests especially after the quota was scrapped.
MANGALURU: The hijab controversy that reached its peak a year ago is unlikely to benefit the Social Democratic Party of India (SDPI) in the Assembly elections, said political analysts.
By spearheading the campaign against the hijab ban, SDPI was gradually attracting Muslims, especially the youth towards them in Udupi and Dakshina Kannada where the community is about 20 per cent of the population. Bolstered by the overwhelming response from Muslim college students, SDPI fielded candidates in constituencies where Muslims are in significant numbers. In undivided Dakshina Kannada, it has fielded candidates in Mangaluru, Bantwal, Puttur, Moodbidri, Belthangady and Kaup.
However, over the last six months, with the government scrapping 4 per cent sub-reservation for Muslims, the community is feeling more marginalised and disgruntled with the saffron camp. This can only be effectively countered only by Congress.
Political scientist Prof Muzaffar Assadi feels SDPI may get some votes in Mangaluru and Bantwal constituencies where the density of Muslims is high, but they will be unable to dent the prospects of Congress.
He said that by using the hijab row, SDPI has played the victim card. The party also tried to trigger a sense of security in the community which cannot be denied. But the community is fuming after the reservation decision and wants it to be restored. For that, they will support Congress. “The collective consciousness (of Muslims) will support the Congress more than SDPI,” he said.
Altaf (name changed), a first-time voter from Bantwal, who took part in CFI protests during the hijab controversy feels that the community stands to gain if the secular votes are not split. “I want 2B reservation to be restored and will vote for a party that can assure that,” he said.
A Congress leader said that Muslims, especially in coastal Karnataka, will vote strategically in this election. “They did not take part in large numbers in the nomination filing of Congress leaders in DK. But they are silently working to defeat their biggest enemy,” he said.