For the First Time in India’s History, no Muslim Gets Berth in New Union Cabinet

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There has been no Muslim in the Modi government since 2022 when Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s Rajya Sabha membership ended.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI — For the first time in the history of independent India, no Muslim found a berth in the new Union Cabinet as Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government took the oath of office in the national capital on Sunday.

President Droupadi Murmu administered the oath of office to Modi and his team comprising ministers from different castes, communities and regions at the sprawling Rashtrapati Bhavan.  

The National Democratic Alliance (NDA) has not a single member of parliament elected from the Muslim community. Similarly, the NDA does not have any MP from the Sikh, Christian, Buddhist and other minority communities. But, Hardeep Puri and Ravneet Singh Bittu from the Sikh community took oath on Sunday, while George Kurien represents the Christian community. However, Muslims, who account for around 15% population of India, have been denied any ministerial berth. Data shows that around 10% of Muslims have voted for the NDA in this Lok Sabha elections.

There has been no Muslim in the Modi government since 2022 when Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi’s Rajya Sabha membership ended. Despite repeated demands and severe criticism, no Muslim was inducted into the Cabinet.

In Independent India, this is the first time when a new government has been formed after the Lok Sabha elections without any Muslim minister. Even when the Modi government assumed power for the first time in 2014, Najma Heptullah represented the Muslim community. In 2019, Naqvi was included in the Cabinet.

The Council of Ministers of 2004 and 2009 had four and five Muslim ministers respectively. Even in 1999, the Atal Bihari Vajpayee govt had two Muslims in the Council of Ministers — Shahnawaz Hussain and Omar Abdullah. In 1998, the Vajpayee-led ministry had Naqvi as minister of state.

The absence of any Muslim in the newly formed government has drawn a lot of criticism from concerned citizens including members of the BJP.

Dr. Iftikhar Javed, National Secretary of BJP’s minority wing, expressed his disappointment over the absence of Muslims in the ministry. “There is a representation of every caste and region in Centre’s Modi government. Five ministers from the minority communities took the oath. However, no Muslim has been inducted as minister. This is a concerning situation,” wrote Javed on Facebook.

Prominent journalist Rajdeep Sardesai said that Indian Muslims have been invisibalised politically in the last decade.

“Yet again not a single Muslim in the ministerial list. Not one. Truth is, Indian Muslims have been ‘invisibilised’ in the last decade politically. Surely, between regional allies, a dominant party, and lateral entrants from bureaucracy, space could be found for representing 14% of the population,” posted Sardesai on X.

Senior journalist Saba Naqvi said: “As they have done with Christians and Sikhs by inducting non-elected people into the cabinet, it would be good form for #Modi regime to induct a Muslim, 14 per cent of India’s population. On TV last night both JD U and TDP spokies told me not to critique as this is not the final cabinet. @ncbn @NitishKumar. Even cosmetic civilities have some meaning when India engages with the world.”

She added: “Actually Muslims would have voted not for BJP but some would have for @JaiTDP and @Jduonline so it is more their responsibility to ensure that the nation’s largest minority is represented in government to avoid the overall embarrassment that will stick if there is no course correction”.

This time, no Muslim candidate from NDA allies got elected to the 18th Lok Sabha, though only one Muslim candidate contested in the polls on the BJP ticket, in Kerala’s Malappuram constituency. A Muslim was fielded in Bihar’s Kishanganj by JD(U), the NDA partner, but failed to win against the Congress candidate.

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