Muslim MPs' number slips in LS

By Ali Asgar, New Delhi

In the recently held Parliamentary elections, people gave a thumping victory to the United Progressive Alliance (UPA) but they failed in electing the desired number of Muslim members of Parliament (MPs).

Muslims constitute about 13.4 per cent of country's total population but their representation in the 15th Lok Sabha is meager 5 per cent with just 30 MPs in a House of 543. In 14th Lok Sabha, there were a total of 35 Muslim MPs. Data shows that there has been nearly 20 per cent downfall in number of Muslims elected to Lok Sabha in this elections compared to 2004.

In the newly constituted Lok Sabha, Congress has the highest number of 11 Muslim MPs followed by four from Bahujan Samaj Party. Three each from Trinamool Congress and National Conference. Two MPs were elected on Indian Union Muslim League ticket. BJP, JD(U), DMK, CPI, All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) and Assam United Democratic Front (AUDF) have one each Muslim MP while one Independent Muslim candidate has been elected from Ladakh. There are no Muslim MPs from 19 states and six Union territories.
The downfall in Muslim representation has raised some serious questions among the community as their representation is already much lower than the proportion of their population. Muslim intellectuals are giving plenty of reasons for this declining trend.

"Muslim representation is likely to be affected by the fact that some of the constituencies in which Muslims are concentrated are reserved for scheduled castes which means they are denied the opportunity of contesting elections from these constituencies in which they form a large proportion of the population," says Zoya Hasan, professor at Jawaharlal Nehru University and member of the National Commission for Minorities. Apart from delimitation, there are two other main reasons, first under-nomination of Muslim candidates by political parties and second, division of community votes. National parties had given fewer tickets to Muslims this time than in previous elections.

"Many of those who were given tickets lost because of the split vote. The chances of Muslim candidates were greatly damaged by the new Muslim parties whose candidates could not win a single seat but succeeded in cutting into the votes of more winnable candidates. It is gratifying that Muslim voters rejected attempts by these sectarian parties at stoking religious identity for electoral gain," adds Zoya.

Of the total 780 Muslim candidates who contested the election, most of them being independents, but only 30 of them succeeded in making it to the new Parliament. Interestingly, Mulayam Singh Yadav-led Samajwadi Party, Lalu Prasad-led RJD and Chanderbabu Naidu's TDP which claim themselves to be champion in raising minorities cause have failed to send any Muslim MP to the House this time.

While UP and West Bengal have elected the highest number of six Muslim MPs each followed by Jammu & Kashmir with four, Kerala and Bihar have got three each, Tamil Nadu and Assam two each and one each has got elected from Andhra Pradesh and Lakshadweep.

In 2004 polls, the highest number of 10 Muslim candidates were elected from UP, five from West Bengal, four from Bihar, three from J&K, two each from AP, Assam, Karnataka, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and one each from Jharkhand and Maharashtra. The highest number of Muslims were elected to the Lok Sabha in 1980 when the figure was 48. In 1984 also, the number of Muslim MPs was 41.

Story By : Ali Asgar



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