Bangalore : The Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), part of the Congress-led United Progressive Alliance (UPA), has decided to contest the elections in Karnataka by fielding candidates in eight of the 28 Lok Sabha constituencies of the state.
“Though we have been part of the UPA, we have decided to field our own candidates in eight Lok Sabha constituencies in Karnataka, as we want to expand our party’s presence in the state and protect the interests of minorities,” IUML state unit secretary Ibrahim A. Jokatte told IANS here Saturday.
The eight seats are: Bangalore South, Bangalore Central, Bangalore Rural, Mysore, Mangalore, Dharwad, Shimoga and Bidar. The state is going to polls in two phases April 23 and April 30.
“We are re-entering the parliamentary electoral battle in Karnataka after a gap of 13 years. Our candidate polled about 80,000 votes in the Shimoga Lok Sabha constituency in the 1996 elections. We also contested five seats in the 2008 state assembly elections,” Jokatte recalled.
The party has, however, decided to extend support to candidates of “secular” parties in the remaining 20 seats on the condition they would fight for 10 percent reservation for Muslims and five percent for other minorities.
“We want the Rangantah Mishra Committee report to be tabled in parliament and implement its recommendations to reserve 10 percent of government jobs for Muslims and five percent to other minority communities,” Jokatte pointed out.
The party is also contesting two Lok Sabha seats each in Tamil Nadu and Kerala as part of the DMK-led front and the Congress-led United Democratic Front (UDF) respectively.
Accusing the Congress of treating minorities, especially the Muslims, as vote banks to further its interests, Jokatte said his party had decided to fight against the policy of “appeasement and exploitation of minorities”.
“We are also concerned about the welfare of our people, especially their safety and security in Karnataka, which is ruled by the rightwing BJP (Bharatiya Janata Party). In the guise of fighting terrorism, innocent Muslims are either harassed or arrested. Our people, including women, are also discriminated against and attacked by fascist forces in the guise of moral policing,” Jokatte said.
Asked if the IUML would align with the Third Front, Jokatte said the party’s leadership would decide after the polls as the front consisted of “secular” parties and was not “untouchable” like the BJP.
The IUML was formed in 1948 with a view to achieving the constitutional rights of Muslims, other backward and minority people of India.