News / Asia

Muslim Vote Could Impact Outcome in Indian Elections

An election officer signs a piece of paper on an electronic voting machine before submitting it at a strong room in Kandhamal district, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, April 10, 2014
An election officer signs a piece of paper on an electronic voting machine before submitting it at a strong room in Kandhamal district, in the eastern Indian state of Orissa, April 10, 2014
Deepak Dobhal
As India's multi-phase election continues, the country’s Muslim minority could have a significant impact on the outcome of the vote in the biggest democratic election in world history.

Muslims are uneasy about the popularity of the prime ministerial candidate of the Hindu nationalist, Bharatiya Janata Party, Narendra Modi.

The Imam of New Delhi’s Grand Mosque, Syed Ahmed Bukhari, urged Muslims to vote for the Congress Party, that currently is the ruling party in India.

Polling began this week in the first phase of voting that will continue over the next five weeks.

Muslims make up about 13 percent of the Indian population and in some constituencies the Muslim vote can play a key role in deciding the winner, analysts say.

Recent interviews with Muslims near the Grand Mosque showed division among voters.
 
Muhammad Anis, who sells fruit on a hand-drawn cart, said he will see who he likes before deciding who to back.
 
Another vendor, who gave his name as Haji, said that while he has a lot of respect for the Imam, he will – like most people – vote for the candidate he thinks is the best.
 
Analyst Hilal Ahmad researches voting trends among Muslims in India.
 
“It is impossible to even think that 180 million people make a unanimous decision and vote along the same lines,” said Hilal Ahmad, who researches voting trends among Muslims in India for the Center for Developing Societies of New Delhi. 
 
Analyst Yashwant Deshmukh said there are about 35 constituencies where Muslims make up approximately 30 percent of the electorate.
 
“Then there are another 150 constituencies where Muslim population is close to 10 percent of the total voters,” said Deshmukh, the founder of a company called CVoter.  “Which means, in the House of 543 seats, there are about 200 seats where Muslim vote can somewhat affect the outcome.”
 
But Deshmukh said that despite their ability to fairly impact the election outcome, Muslims in India should not be looked at as a monolithic body because they do not decide in unison which party to vote for.
 
“Based on our research, voters, both Hindu and Muslim, vote for the candidate they think will serve them best rather than voting along the communal or ethnic lines,” Deshmukh said,
 
He added that surveys have proven that Muslims cannot be swayed by anyone to vote for any particular party. 
 
Researcher Ahmad said his institute found in previous surveys that 96 percent of Muslims considered poverty, unemployment and education as their major issues.
 
But experts say it is difficult to find a pattern of voting among Indian Muslims.
 
In the last elections in the state of Gujarat, four in 10 Muslims voted for Chief Minister Narendra Modi.
 
Modi is viewed by many in India as a controversial figure because of what happened during one of the worst sectarian riots in country’s history in 2002, when hundreds of Muslims were killed in the state of Gujarat.  Modi was the chief minister of Gujarat then and critics say he did little or nothing to stop the violence. 
 
Deshmukh said the fact that Modi received significant Muslim votes in Gujarat shows however that Muslims will vote for who they think can best serve their constituency despite the violent past.
 
Still, analysts say it will be hard for Modi’s party, BJP, which has emerged as the biggest challenger to the ruling Congress Party, to woo Muslim voters nationwide.
 
Throughout the campaign Modi has campaigned on the economy and development and has tried to distance himself from the riots.

You May Like

Changing Under Pressure, IS ‘Potent’ as Ever

US intel officials describe Ramadi's fall as concerning, but say it isn't emblematic of larger effort to degrade IS capabilities More

Nigeria Fuel Shortage Shows Fragility of Africa’s Oil Giant

Although it is the largest oil producer in Africa, country has nearly ran out of fuel it needs to power its generators, cars and airplanes over the past week More

Arrested Football Officials Come Mainly From the Americas

US Justice Department alleges defendants participated in 24-year scheme to enrich themselves through corruption of international soccer More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs