Proportionate to their population, which accounts for 9.67 per cent of the state's total population, Muslims should have as many as 17 seats in the 182 assembly seats, but as per the data they have not been able to cross the 1-3 mark in the last 25 years.
Shibra | Clarion India
NEW DELHI — In more than 20 assembly seats of Gujarat, Muslim electorate is dominant. However, the community that constitutes nearly 10 per cent of the state’s population is deprived of its due share of representation, proportionate to its population, in the legislature over the past 25 years. In fact, Muslims have been underrepresented all these years.
What’s all the more surprising is that Muslims in the states have not crossed the 2.74-per cent mark in terms of participation in the assembly elections.
The 15th assembly elections were held in the BJP-ruled state with the Muslims having the least political representation. According to the 2011 census, Muslims are India’s second-largest religious minority while in Gujarat; they account for 9.67 per cent of the state’s population.
A total of 1,621 candidates are in the fray in the current assembly polls. In the last 25 years, there have only been a handful of Muslim legislators in Gujarat. This time around, Congress has fielded only six Muslim candidates, whereas the BJP has continued its tradition of not fielding any Muslim candidate, while the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) offered tickets to only two Muslim candidates. The last time the BJP had fielded Muslim candidates was 24 years ago, while the Congress gave tickets to more than 10 candidates 27 years ago, in 1995.
Proportionate to their population, which accounts for 9.67 per cent of the state’s total population, Muslims should have as many as 17 seats in the 182 assembly seats, but as per the data they have not been able to cross the 1-3 mark in the last 25 years.
According to the data provided by the Election Commission of India (ECI), in 1998 the Gujarat assembly had five Muslim members. However, over the years, their number has only decreased. In 2017, three Muslim candidates reached the assembly, an increase of one from that of the assembly of 2012. In 1998, 2002, 2007, 2012, and 2017, the percentage of Muslim representation in the state assembly was 2.74, 1.64, 2.74, 1.09, and 1.64, respectively.
According to The Leaflet, Gujarat has the lowest average representation of Muslims among the states with the largest Muslim populations between 1961 and 2019. The report says from 1961 to 2019, the average population share of Muslims in Gujarat has been 9 per cent, while the average share in the representation at the assembly was a measly 2 per cent, whereas, in Arunachal Pradesh, the average share of Muslim MLAs in the assembly of the state from 1961 to 2019 was 3 per cent for the same share of the population.
However, Gujarat is not an exception. The trend of low Muslim representation in the assembly can be seen in every other state too. Take the example of Assam, a states which boasts the largest Muslim population with an average of 28 per cent. But their political representation is limited to 19 per cent. Rajasthan and Gujarat are at the bottom of the list insofar as representation of Muslims is concerned, with 8 and 9 percent of the population share and 3 and 2 per cent of Muslim lawmakers in state assemblies, respectively.
The same story repeats at Parliament level. From the first Lok Sabha election to the most recent in 2019, only 0.9 per cent of Muslims were able to make it to India’s Parliament. In 1952, the share of the Muslim community in representation at Parliament was 4 per cent with 9 per cent of the total population. While Muslims constitute 4.9 per cent of the population in the current Parliament, they account for 15 per cent of India’s total population. In 1980, the Muslim community held highest 9 per cent of the seats in the Indian parliament, compared to 11 per cent of the national population.
State of Muslim Representation in Parliament
Photo: Gujarat voted for the first phase of polling on December 1. — AP