GUWAHATI: Assam‘s Muslim voters, who account for 35% of the electorate, also form the biggest chunk of voters who turn up at polling stations to vote in almost every election.
One of the reasons they do so is fear of being marked as a “D (doubtful) voter” and possibly getting disenfranchised. In the just-awaited elections, too, Muslim-dominated constituencies saw big voting numbers.
The 34 constituencies where they are in the majority registered an average turnout of 84%. In the remaining 92 constituencies where the number of Muslim voters is negligible, the average polling percentage was 79%.
In this poll, the state’s average polling percentage was just over 82%, but seven constituencies with a concentration of Muslim voters reported a turnout of over 90% and three others registered a little over 89%.
Among these 10 seats, four had been won by Congress and six by AIUDF in 2016. Minority student leader and former Assam Minority Students’ Union (AMSU) advisor Azizur Rahman, who is contesting the Naoboicha seat, said the turnout of Muslims on polling day had always been higher than voters of other communities because they were greatly influenced by parties and candidates.
“Unlike other people, the Muslims (Bengali-speaking migrants) are less educated, poor and take their decision collectively,” Rahman said. “There is one more reason for them always coming out in large numbers.” They live in fear… if they do not vote they will be marked as ‘D voter’ on the electoral rolls, ”he added.
Hafizur Rahman (26) has never missed any election and has voted for the fifth time this year. A voter in Jania constituency, Hafizur, traveled over 150 km to his home to vote as he fears that if he does not vote, there will be a D-mark before his name on the electoral list.