Muslim Representation: Shape of Things to Come

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Lok-Sabha
In all probability BJP will end up winning more seats than it ever has and Muslim representation in Lok Sabha could hit an all time low in the coming elections
 
DR JAVED JAMIL

[dropcap]E[/dropcap]lections are still a few months away. There are possibilities of recurrent changes in the likely results of the elections. It is quite possible that the ultimate scenario may not be as horrible as it looks now. But in all probability BJP will end up winning more seats than it has ever done in the past. This alone is enough reason to conclude that the Muslim representation in Lok Sabha may hit an all time low in the coming elections.

If we look at the table of Muslim representation in Lok Sabha since 1947, we find that it has been almost half of what it should have been. It has varied from the lowest of 21 in 1952 to 49 in 1980. The average comes to about 32 which is almost half of the average of 60 which should have been the case in accordance with the Muslim percentage in the population.

 
TABLE 1
Muslims in Lok Sabha
No.
Year
Total elected members
Muslims elected
Expected representation on population basis
Deprivation %
I 1952 489 21 49 57.14
II 1957 494 24 49 51.02
III 1962 494 23 53 56.60
IV 1967 520 29 56 48.21
V 1971 518 30 58 48.28
VI 1977 542 34** 61 44.26
VII 1980 529*1 49** 59 16.95
VIII 1984 542 46** 62 25.81
IX 1989 529*2 33 60 45.00
X 1991 534*3 28 65 56.92
XI 1996 543 28 66 57.56
XII 1998 543 29 66 56.06
XIII 1999 543 32 66 51.52
XIV 2004 543 36 66 45.45
Total 442 836 47.12
Notes: *1: Elections were not held in Assam (12) and Meghalaya (1); 2:Source: Based on Ansari 2006, 99-102.
Muslims are always on the losing side in the country. Whenever anyone talks of reservation of Muslims, the opponents – open and hidden — start arguing that the constitution does not provide FOR reservation on the ground of religion. No one asks them: Does the Constitution provide for the denial of reservation on the ground of religion?
Does the constitutional spirit of secularism allow under-representation of a certain community in any field especially where it is not the merit but the representation that matters? 
There may be an argument that in jobs and education, merit rather than any other consideration should ideally be the deciding factor. Of course, counter, even stronger, arguments can be given against this notion. But there cannot be absolutely any argument in favor of not ensuring representation in Peoples’ bodies in accordance with the percentage in the population. While there are other reasons also for the under-representation, the foremost reason remains the lack of will on the part of political parties in allotting enough tickets to Muslims. See the following table:
TABLE 2
Nomination of Muslims for the Lok Sabha Elections by Major Political Parties
Name of the political party
Average nomination
Ratio: elected to nominated
INC
6.72%
1:2
BJS/BJP
0.82%
1:10
CPI
4.24%
1:9
CPI(M)
9.34%
1:2
Janata Party/Lok Dal
6.8%
1:5
Janata Dal
9.04%
1:4
RJD
14.79%
1:4
SP
18.02%
1:7
BSP
10.53%
1:17
Source: Based on Ansari 2006, 99-102.
Not only in Lok Sabha and legislative assemblies, the representation of Muslims in Rajya Sabha and Vidhan Parishads has also been much lower than what it should be. It is to counter this trend that the writer of this article (along with Mr. Sirajuddin Qureshi, President, India International Islamic Center, New Delhi) had prepared Agenda 2014 and sent it to various political parties. This agenda had hosts of issues, but here I will just highlight the one related to the Muslim representation. The Agenda has demanded:
“All political parties must agree to allot the following:
 
 – 15 pc tickets to Muslims in Lok Sabha elections;
– 15 pc seats to Muslims in Rajya Sabha;
– If Lok Sabha elections do not bring 15 pc Muslims from respective parties, they must compensate it by nominating more candidates for Rajya Sabha
– Allotment of tickets in assemblies in accordance with the population of Muslims in that state;
– Allotment of seats in Vidhan Parishads in accordance with the population;
– If elections do not bring required number of MLAs, it should be compensated through allocation of greater seats in legislative councils.”
The political parties need to be pressurized to make sure that Muslim representation in their total quota of Lok Sabha plus Rajya Sabha and State Assemblies plus Councils must be proportionate to Muslim population in the country/states.
The indications so far are that no political party is caring for Muslims. The composition of candidates declared by different political parties till now is hardly encouraging. We are fighting a battle, which has perhaps been already lost.
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