This small town of about 50,000 Muslims 12 kms from Nagaur in Rajasthan voted for BJP and Congress respectively in the last two elections. But this time, indications are that the voters are likely to switch sides and votes are likely to go to independent candidate Habibur Rahman.
In 2013, Habibur Rahman, five-time MLA had won on BJP ticket defeating Harendra Mirdha of Congress. In 2018, BJP had dropped its sitting MLA Habibur Rahman and had given ticket to Mohan Ram Choudhary, who defeated Rahman contesting from Congress.
This time it's triangular contest between BJP's Jyoti Mirdha, Congress' Harendra Mirdha and independent candidate Habibur Rahman.
Rahman hails from Basni, which holds the key to victory in Nagaur – the constituency with over 70,000 Muslim voters out of total 2.47 lakh voting population.
The denial of ticket to Rahman from Congress prompted 500 odd youngsters to book their train tickets back to Mumbai, where they work in dairy farms – the main occupation of people in Basni town. They had come to their home town to campaign for Habib.
“A person from every house in this town is engaged in milk supply in Mumbai There more than 4500 dairy farms and booths spread across Church Gate to Virar owned by ‘Nagauris' from Basni. The town is well known for its dairy business. Not in Rajasthan but in Mumbai,” said Iqbal Qadri, who owns a shop near the famous Imam Ahmed Raza Masjid – a major tourist attraction.
The town has 7,000 houses of minority community, which comprises 95% of the population. It has a history of voting for Congress. Rahman had been a three time MLA from Congress before contesting 2008 elections on the BJP ticket. In 2013, the Congress candidate, Shaukat Ali, had to forfeit his security contesting against Rahman, who fought for BJP.
“From 2008, bulk of the voting had shifted to BJP. It looks strange, but a minority village stayed with the saffron party for 10 years. Now, since Habib has left BJP, so are the voters,” said Ahmad Hasan.
Habirur Rahman is an established leader in Nagaur. He had won on tickets of both the parties. Now he is contesting election as an independent candidate.
“For us our votes are where Habib Bhai is. He works for both the communities. He is a kayamkhani Muslim with equal respect in Hindu as well as Muslim communities,” said Rahmat Ali.
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