No Muslim in Maharashtra Legislative Council for the First Time in History


Ensuring adequate representation for all communities is crucial for the health of democracy and equitable development of society.

Team Clarion

MUMBAI – For the first time since its inception in 1937, the Maharashtra Legislative Council will not have a single Muslim representative. This unprecedented situation arises as the terms of the two current Muslim councillors, Wajahat Mirza of Congress and Abdullah Khan Durrani of NCP (Sharad Pawar), are set to expire this month. No Muslim candidate has been fielded for the upcoming council elections, leaving the Legislative Council without any Muslim representation.

Maharashtra’s two-house legislature has always included Muslim representatives since 1937. The absence of Muslim members in the Legislative Council marks a significant departure from this historical norm. This development comes on the heels of the recent Lok Sabha elections, where none of the 48 seats in the state were won by Muslim candidates. This has raised concerns among Muslim leaders and communities about their diminishing political representation.

The absence of Muslim candidates in recent elections has sparked considerable discontent among Muslim leaders within the Congress and other opposition parties. In the 2019 state assembly elections, only 10 Muslims were elected for the 288-seat House. This is despite Muslims making up over 12% of Maharashtra’s population, according to the 2011 census, which translates to more than 1.30 crore individuals.

Samajwadi Party MLA Raees Sheikh has voiced these concerns by writing to key leaders of the Maha Vikas Aghadi (MVA) coalition, including Shiv Sena (UBT) chief Uddhav Thackeray, Congress state president Nana Patole, and NCP (SP) state president Jayant Patil. He has demanded that Muslims be given adequate representation in the next elections of the Legislative Council.

Political Alienation

The current exclusion of Muslim representatives could push the community towards parties like the All India Majlis-e-Ittehad-ul-Muslimeen (AIMIM). Raees Sheikh has cautioned that the MVA’s reluctance to field Muslim candidates risks alienating the community, potentially driving them to support AIMIM.

“Since the state came into existence, 567 MPs have been elected from Maharashtra, out of which only 15 (2.5%) are from the Muslim community. By not giving representation to Muslims, the MVA is taking the risk of sending them to parties like AIMIM, which polarise Muslims,” said Sheikh.

Fear of Polarisation

Political analysts suggest that the Congress and its allies are hesitant to field Muslim candidates due to fears that this could lead to a polarisation of votes, benefiting the BJP. The apprehension is that the majority votes might consolidate in favour of the BJP and its allies if Muslims are given tickets.

Prakash Ambedkar, leader of the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi, criticised this approach, stating, “If they have to keep Muslims out like BJP, then what is the difference between the two? Maha Vikas Aghadi wants Muslim votes, not Muslim candidates.”

Muslim leaders are now pressing for a reconsideration of candidate selection policies to ensure fair representation. They argue that the lack of representation undermines the democratic fabric of the state and ignores the substantial Muslim population in Maharashtra.

The exclusion of Muslims from the Legislative Council could have far-reaching implications for Maharashtra’s political landscape. It remains to be seen how the MVA coalition and other political entities will address these concerns and whether they will take steps to ensure that Muslims are not sidelined in future elections.

The current scenario in Maharashtra reflects a broader issue of political representation for minority communities in India. The historical exclusion of Muslims from the Legislative Council underscores the need for inclusive politics that genuinely represent the diverse demographics of the state. Ensuring adequate representation for all communities is crucial for the health of democracy and equitable development of society.

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