Despite being one of the largest states in south India with three major political parties, Congress, Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S), Karnataka has not chosen a Muslim candidate as an MP since 2004.
According to reports, not many parties support candidates from the Muslim community and the divergence of political attitude in voters is one of the reasons due to which the state hasn't had a Muslim MP for nearly 15 years.
Iqbal Ahmed Saradgi, who represented Congress from Kalaburagi, was the last Muslim MP to be elected from Karnataka in 2004. Except for BJP, the other two prominent political parties had candidates from the Muslim community.
Between 2004 and 2019, Congress and JD(S) had 11 candidates altogether. These 11 make up for less than 10 per cent of the seats (112) that were at play, while Karnataka has more than 12 per cent Muslims, reports The Times of India.
Talking about the political scenario in Karnataka, Muzaffar Assadi, a political scientist, said that there is no specific Muslim constituency in the state where the community's votes decide the winner. "Parties also don't encourage leaders to grow beyond community identity markers. Another factor is that there has been a polarisation of voters, especially when the BJP is contesting," Assadi told TOI.
According to Assadi, the voters see Muslim candidates as party workers when Congress and JD(S) are at play, but when the BJP is ruling there is Hindu-Muslim line drawn by the voters and the Hindu voters get consolidated.
The communal element has always been a major reason for this divided thinking among the voters in the state. Even the party leaders throng on such emotional aspects of the communities to garner votes.
This has been an ongoing trend in Karnataka where there is still a lot of communal issues mostly among Hindus and Muslims. Even for the upcoming Lok Sabha elections, there is only one Muslim candidate - Rizwan Arshad of Congress representing Bengaluru Central constituency.