As the battle for Lok Sabha 2019 gathers steam, the falling representation of Muslims in Lok Sabha has been one of the areas of concern as the House is a representation of the country’s social fabric.
It remains to be seen how many Muslim leaders are fielded in the polls and how many of them get elected. But if the outcome of the 2014 Lok Sabha elections is taken into account, one can not expect a huge change in 2019.
In 2014, only 23 Muslim leaders got elected mainly from six states of West Bengal (8), Bihar (4), Kerala (3), Jammu and Kashmir (3), Assam (2) and Andhra Pradesh (1). Union territory of Lakshadweep also elected a Muslim MP.
A wider look at the canvass shows that 53 Muslim leaders ended up as runners up in 2014. Ghulam Raza, an independent lost to Thupstan Chhewang of the BJP from Ladakh with a margin of only 36 votes.
Hamidullah Sayeed of the Congress lost the Lakshaddweep seat to Mohammed Faizal by only 1,535 votes. Adv A.N Shamseer of CPI (M) lost from Vadakara constituency in Kerala to Mullappally Ramachandran of the Congress by only 3,306 votes and Dr Shafiq Ur Rahman Baraq of Samajwadi Party lost the Sambhal seat to Satyapal Singh of the BJP by 5,174 votes. Barring these seats, all the Muslim leaders lost by wide margins.
Another notable aspect of the previous election was that nine of the Muslim leaders lost to Muslims candidates only while on the rest of the seats, the winners were all non-Muslims.
Uttar Pradesh had the highest number of Muslim runner up (19) followed by West Bengal which had nine followed by five in Bihar.
Md. Salim of CPI (M) won Raiganj seat in West Bengal with only 1356 votes. Aparupa Poddar (Afrin Ali) of Trinamool Congress was the Muslim winner with highest margin of 346,845 votes from Arambagh in West Bengal.
According to the census of 2011, the Muslim population in the country is 17.2 crore but their representation in Lok Sabha has been well below 10 per cent. The highest representation of Muslims in Lok Sabha has been in 1980 when 49 leaders were elected.