JAGATSINGHPUR: Candidates of different political parties are now eyeing the Muslim vote bank which plays a crucial role in electoral battle in Jagatsinghpur Assembly segment.
Except Nuagaon, four blocks under Jagatsinghpur Assembly constituency of Paradip, Tirtol, Jagatsinghpur and Balikuda-Erasama have a sizeable Muslim population. Jagatsinghpur Assembly segment has Nuagaon and Jagatsinghpur blocks and one municipality under it. Jagatsingpur block and areas under municipality has high number of Muslim voters but in Naugaon block, where there is no presence of Muslim voters, the Hindus play the deciding factor.
Last time, Chiranjib Biswal of Congress had won the Assembly seat by defeating Bishnu Charan Das of BJD with a margin of only 2,888 votes. Traditionally, Muslim voters have been supporting Congress which won the seat eight times since 1951. Das broke this trend in 1990 when he contested on Janata Dal ticket. He subsequently fought on BJD ticket and kept winning the seat till 2014 when Biswal wrested it.
This time, there are issues galore with the minority community. Political observers said the Muslim votes may again go in favour of Congress as the BJD in State and BJP at Centre have neglected the community by not looking into their demands. While the Central Government has stopped scholarship for students of minority communities, only six Madrasas of 144 registered ones in the district get mid-day meals under Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan. The Muslim school students do not get uniforms, Urdu books and other benefits from the School and Mass Education Department. Besides, the BJD run State Government has not implemented any development project for the minority community, president of Congress Minority Community Cell Amilus Sazeidin alleged.
Vice-president of BJP Minority Community Cell, Mujabil Khan said the highest Muslim voters are in Balikuda-Erasama Assembly constituency and his party has already started efforts to win them. He said the BJP was sure of 80 per cent votes since the ruling party has ignored the minority community. “Central Government sanctioned lakhs of rupees to the State WAKF Board but not a single Muslim is being benefited from this scheme so the minority community has vowed to teach the BJD a lesson by voting for its candidates,” he added.