Muslims Remain Marginalised in Selection of Candidates in Bihar’s Election Dynamics

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While the RJD emerges as a frontrunner in promoting gender inclusivity, its commitment to Muslim representation remains limited.

Mohammad Alamullah | Clarion India

NEW DELHI — The caste census figures in Bihar revealed last year offer an excellent opportunity for different political parties to field their candidates in the Lok Sabha elections accordingly. They have the opportunity to align ticket distribution with the population demographics of each caste and community.

The passage of the Women’s Reservation Bill, albeit unimplemented, underscores the potential for fair representation of half the country’s population in ticket allocation. However, the focus on caste census data and equitable distribution has brought to light the marginalisation of certain communities, notably Muslims.

Opposition parties, including the INDIA bloc, have been vocal in demanding a nationwide caste census, advocating for proportional representation in governance and resource allocation. The slogan, “The greater the number, the greater the share,” encapsulates the ethos driving this call for inclusivity.

Despite claims and counterclaims regarding the credit for initiating the caste survey in Bihar, the current electoral landscape seems disconnected from the purported objective of caste-based representation. Political alliances, primarily the BJP-led NDA and INDIA bloc, vie for dominance, prioritising electorally viable candidates over demographic considerations.

Amidst this political manoeuvring, Muslim representation emerges as a contentious issue. While Uttar Pradesh’s electoral dynamics reflect some semblance of demographic representation, Bihar paints a contrasting picture.

Ali Anwar, a former journalist and a staunch advocate for Pasmanda Muslims, voices concerns over the marginalisation of Muslims in ticket distribution. He attributes this disparity to both political alienation and pragmatic electoral calculations.

The seat of Kishanganj, with the highest Muslim population in Bihar, becomes a focal point in this discourse. While some parties make symbolic gestures towards inclusivity, substantive representation remains elusive.

The statistics speak volumes – despite constituting approximately 17.7% of Bihar’s population, Muslims receive limited representation in ticket allocation. This glaring disparity underscores systemic challenges in political participation and representation.

Emphasising the complexities of ticket distribution social activist Pushpendra Kumar highlighted the reluctance of small regional parties to experiment with candidate selection. This hesitance, he argued, stems from concerns about cadre disapproval and financial constraints.

The NDA’s failure to nominate Muslim candidates in Bihar’s Lok Sabha elections, juxtaposed with the BJP’s focus on upper caste candidates, underscores the pervasive nature of exclusionary politics.

The Women’s Reservation Bill remains unimplemented, casting doubts on the sincerity of political rhetoric advocating for gender inclusivity. The absence of women candidates further underscores the entrenched patriarchal structures within political parties.

While the RJD emerges as a frontrunner in promoting gender inclusivity, its commitment to Muslim representation remains limited. The party’s ticket allocation reflects a broader trend of tokenism rather than substantive inclusion.

In this electoral spectacle, the promise of inclusive governance remains elusive, overshadowed by political expediency and entrenched power dynamics. As citizens exercise their democratic rights, the onus lies on political parties to bridge the gap between rhetoric and reality, ensuring meaningful representation for all communities.

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