As Congress comes back to power in Chhattisgarh after fifteen years, one of the most talked about victories in the state elections has come from Kawardha.
Senior Congress leader Mohammad Akbar who was leading by 51,000 votes earlier in the day, increased his lead further by late evening. When results were announced, he had defeated his rival by a record 59,284 votes.
Akbar will be the sole Muslim MLA in the 90 member Assembly of the tribal-dominated state. He has secured over 1.36 lakh votes while the other candidate, BJP’s Ashok Sahu got 77,000 votes.
Congress has swept the state but it is the margin of victory that tells the real story about Akbar, one of the most popular leaders of the state, who strangely is not as much known outside Chhattisgarh.
In fact, this is the biggest win in Chhattisgarh. It has broken the record of Ajit Jogi’s victory margin (54,000) from Marwahi in the past. The second biggest victory in this election is Amitesh Shukla’s victory in Rajim who defeated BJP’s Santosh Upadhyay by around 58,000 votes.
Akbar was a former minister in Congress government (during Ajit Jogi’s tenure).
Though in the last Assembly polls, he had lost, he has won repeatedly from various constituencies across the State.
Though Chhattisgarh doesn’t have a sizable Muslim population–the community is more concentrated in cities and towns, Md Akbar has won from constituencies that had less than 5% Muslims.
In times of polarization, it is no mean achievement. In 1990, he had contested from Raipur rural seat and had lost to Tarun Chatterji, a local strongman and former Mayor of Raipur. Akbar had lost but got nearly 42% votes, even then.
In 1993, he lost from Virendra Nagar constituency but won in the year 1998. The other senior Muslim leader from Chhattisgarh, Badruddin Qureshi, was elected from Bhilai the same year.
Akbar kept getting elected laster also. In 2008, he had won from Pandaria.
Chhattisgarh has a population of over 2.56 crore as per the last Census. There are less than one million Muslims in the state.
In the year 2013, there was no Muslim MLA in Chhattisgarh Assembly. In this election, Akbar will be the sole Muslim legislator. The other Congress leader, Badruddin Qureshi has lost from Vaishalinagar constituency by a margin of around 18,000 votes.