New Delhi: Habibur Rahman, Member of Legislative Assembly from Nagaur, joined the Congress on Wednesday, a day after he quit the BJP over being denied a ticket for the upcoming Rajasthan elections.
Rahman joined the Congress at the party's office in Jaipur in the presence of Ajmer MP Raghu Sharma and other leaders, the same day BJP’s Dausa MP Harish Chandra Meena joined the grand old party in New Delhi.
The BJP released its first list of 131 candidates for the elections on November 12, retaining 85 MLAs and putting forward 25 new faces. The list also included 12 women, 32 young leaders, 17 Scheduled Caste and 19 Scheduled Tribe candidates. The list, however, did not include a single Muslim candidate, causing displeasure within the community in the state.
State minority cell vice-president Sadiq Khan wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and BJP president Amit Shah, raising concerns about minority representation in Rajasthan. “Habibur Rahman left Congress and came to BJP. The party has now cut his ticket. What message are we sending out to others then? How will they come and join us? There is a party meet today and tomorrow and I hope at least 6-8 Muslim candidates get a ticket,” he told News18.com.
Khan said Muslims deserved representation and the community had over 80,000 voters each in more than 22 constituencies. “We should get an opportunity to go to our community and ask for votes for the BJP. How else will we fight the Congress?”
Khan, however, maintained that the community would support the BJP in the elections, as it had in 2013 but the national leadership must consult state leaders before making decisions over seats. “The senior leaders who are quiet today will bear responsibility too if the party suffers losses in elections,” he said.
However, Gajendra Singh Shekhawat, BJP convener of Rajasthan election committee, played down the issue and said the tickets were being given on the basis of merit. “Wait and watch till the next list of candidates. Party leaders are talking to protesting MLAs and leaders,” he said.
In addition to Rahman, cabinet minister and five-time MLA from Jaitaran Surendra Goyal also resigned from the BJP on Tuesday after he was denied a ticket. The BJP replaced the minister with Avinash Gehlot from Jaitaran seat in Pali district and Goyal is likely to contest polls as an independent candidate.
In the 2013 assembly elections in the state, Rahman had defeated independent candidate Harendra Mirdha by a small margin of 5,855 votes. Of the three Muslim candidates then fielded by the BJP, two — including Rahman from Nagaur and Yunus Khan from Deedwana — had won on their respective seats. The former was dropped from the seat and the latter’s name too did not appear in the first list. However, candidature for Deedwana is yet to be announced.