By Shaik Ahmed Ali
As many as 16 General Elections were fought, lost and won. The Lok Sabha has seen over 8,500 new, old and repeated faces in the last six decades. Several new political parties were formed, existing parties faced splits and a few others merged themselves into another. New alliances were constituted and then broken. With the rise of new political parties and alliances, several communities found their way into the Lower House of Parliament. Socially and economically backward communities were able to send their representatives to the Lok Sabha after every election. A loss for one community, benefitted the other. The only thing that remained unchanged in the Lok Sabha is the number of Muslim members.
Of 543 members who got elected to the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014, only 23 are Muslims. According to 2001 Census, Muslims constitute about 13.4 per cent of the total population. However, their representation in the present Lok Sabha is mere 4.24 per cent of the total elected members.
This is not a new phenomenon. These numbers have more or less remained the same since independence.
The first general election was held in 1952, about five years after India achieved independence. The conditions were extremely exceptional and volatile. The Indian Muslims were given a villaneous image. The memories of partition were fresh. Their loyalty towards the motherland was in question. Their presence in India itself was in doubt. All of them were expected to migrate to Pakistan. Instead of citizens, Muslims were treated as subjects by many. They had no party, no leader and absolutely no understanding of the election process. A few elite Muslims were actively associated with the Congress and also with a few other parties. But none of the political parties were serious about giving tickets to the Muslims. As a result, out of 489 directly elected members, only 21 Muslims got elected to the first Lok Sabha. This was just 4.29 per cent of the total members.
The first genuine election, I believe, was held in 1957. The Indian Constitution was in implementation. Many states were re-organised on linguistic basis. The state legislatures were in existence. People have understood the electoral processes and also the advantages of democracy. Almost all communities and castes were prepared to send their representatives to the second Lok Sabha. But, the Muslim community was again confused, dis-organised and was totally unprepared for the general elections. Of 490 seats, Muslims could win only 24, registering an increase of 3 seats compared to 1952.
Though every general election saw the rise or political empowerment of a caste or community, but Muslims remained where they were in 1947. Despite changing political situations, favourable circumstances, emergence of new political groups, alignment and re-alignment of pro-Muslim entities, they could never win even 50 Lok Sabha seats in the country.
In 1952 as many as 21 Muslims got elected; there were 24 Muslim MPs in 1957; 23 in 1962; 29 in 1967; 30 in 1971; 34 in 1977; 49 in 1980; 46 in 1984; 33 in 1989; 28 in 1991; 28 in 1996; 29 in 1998; 32 in 1999; 36 in 2004 and out of 543 elected members only 30, or just 5.16 per cent, are Muslims in the 15th Lok Sabha in 2009. This time it got reduced to just 23 Muslim MPs.
The Muslim intelligentsia and the leaders feel happy or sad by looking at these numbers. They simply do a basic analysis of these statistics and issue statements expressing happiness or displeasure. If there is an increase in numbers, for instance, from 32 MPs in 1996 to 36 in 2004, they try to make everyone believe that conditions are improving for the Muslims. Similarly, when the number dropped to 30 MPs in 2009, statements were issued raising concerns. Despite availability of huge resources, not many serious attempts were made to explore and expose the real conspiracy that confined the political growth of the Muslim community.
Maybe in small numbers, Muslims had representation in all 16 Lok Sabhas. The figures like 24, 28 or 36 Muslim MPs sound good. It gives an impression that Muslims too are getting their share of power in the Indian democracy. However, this impression is partially correct. The election data reveals that Muslim representation was confined to only a few states. While a few states had Muslim representatives, a majority of them had no or very little representation. Out of 35 states and Union Territories (as on today) Muslims got elected only from 5 states in all general elections held since 1957.
The states of Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Bihar, Kerela and Andhra Pradesh are the only once from where Muslims got elected to all the Lok Sabhas. We can also count Assam in this category although elections were not held in this State in 1980 and 1989. Lakshadeep, a Union Territory, too is regularly returning a Muslim MP since 1967. Muslims also got elected multiple times from Karnataka, Jammu & Kashmir, Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Haryana, Rajasthan and Puducherry. In Karnataka, Muslim candidates have won in 12 elections, except those held in 1962, 2009 and 2014. Similarly, Jammu & Kashmir have sent representatives to 12 Lok Sabhas since 1967, except in 1991, when elections were not held. Maharashtra too had Muslim MPs for 10 times except for 1977, 1998, 1999, 2009 and 2014 General Elections. While Madhya Pradesh has sent Muslim representatives to Lok Sabha 8 times, Muslim candidates got elected from Tamil Nadu to 9 Lok Sabhas. Muslims got elected from Gujarat and Haryana in four general elections, Pondicherry (now Puducherry) had a Muslim MP three times. Rajasthan was represented by a Muslim twice — in 1984 and 1991 while Muslims once got elected from the Punjab and Delhi.
But all these states and union territories put together are just 18. It means no Muslim got elected from the remaining 17 states or union territories since independence. They include Arunachal Pradesh, Chattisgarh, Goa, Himachal Pradesh, Manipur, Meghalaya, Mizoram, Nagaland, Orissa, Sikkim, Tripura, Uttaranchal, Andaman & Nicobar Islands, Chandigarh, Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu. There may be umpteen number of reasons for this non-representation, which we will discuss in coming chapters, but the fact remains that no Muslim got elected from nearly half of the Indian states.
Further, if we look at all elections separately, Muslims got elected from just 11-16 states including two Union Territories. Muslims representatives were elected from just 11 states in 1957 & 1962 general elections; 12 states in 1967; 13 in 1971 & 1977; 14 in 1980; 16 in 1984; 11 in 1989; 13 in 1991; 11 in 1996; 9 in 1998; 10 in 1999; 12 in 2004, 9 in 2009 and just 8 States have sent Muslims to the 16th Lok Sabha in 2014. This is a clear indication that Muslims have no national representation.
(For more information or queries, contact author: [email protected])