Only 24 Muslim MPs make it to Lok Sabha in one of the lowest representations, as all parties have let Muslims down

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By Our Correspondent

NEW DELHI – The Muslim representation in the 18th Lok Sabha, to be constituted after the recently concluded 2024 general elections, is going to be one of the lowest in India’s history since Independence, as only 24 Muslim candidates of different parties have registered victory as Members of Parliament this time. In the previous Lok Sabha with an absolute majority of Bharatiya Janata Party, there were 26 Muslim MPs.

The trend of a very low number of Muslims, far less than their percentage in the country’s population, being elected to the Lower House of Parliament is unlikely to change in the near future with all the political parties having let Muslims down and ignoring the issue of adequate representation of the largest minority community in electoral democracy. The Muslim representation in Lok Sabha remains at 4.41% of its total members, much below the community’s 14% share in India’s population, as per the 2011 Census.

Only 78 Muslims were fielded by various parties in the 2024 Lok Sabha elections, depicting a significant decline from the 2019 elections when 115 Muslim candidates were in the fray. While five Muslims secured seats on the Congress ticket in 2019, the number rose to seven this time around. The community’s presence in the Parliament this time is marginally higher than the 2014 tally, when only 23 Muslims were elected to Lok Sabha.

One of the lowest representations of Muslims will be witnessed in the 18th Lok Sabha despite the fact that a significant portion of the Indian National Developmental Inclusive Alliance (INDIA) bloc’s success rests on Muslims, who voted decisively against the BJP and extended their support to Dalits and backward castes among Hindus during the polls. A major part of the credit for BJP securing only 240 seats, falling short of a majority on its own, goes to the Muslim community.

The Congress’s tally of seven Muslim MPs is the highest for any party. It is followed by All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) at five, Samajwadi Party (SP) at four, Indian Union Muslim League (IUML) at three, National Conference (NC) at two, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM) at one, and two Independents. This means that of the 24 Muslim MPs, 21 are from the INDIA bloc parties.

The comprehensive list of Muslim MPs is as follows:

  1. Iqra Hasan Choudhary (SP) from Kairana, Uttar Pradesh.
  2. Imran Masood (Congress) from Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh.
  3. Afzal Ansari (SP) from Ghazipur, Utta Pradesh.
  4. Asaduddin Owaisi (AIMIM) from Hyderabad, Telangana.
  5. Mohammed Haneefa (Independent), Ladakh.
  6. Abdul Rashid Sheikh aka Engineer Rashid (Independent), from Baramulla, Jammu and Kashmir.
  7. Maulana Mohibbullah Nadwi (SP) from Rampur, Uttar Pradesh.
  8. Zia-ur-Rehman (SP) from Sambhal, Uttar Pradesh.
  9. Mian Altaf Ahmad (NC) from Anantnag-Rajouri, Jammu and Kahsmir.
  10. Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi (NC) from Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir.
  11. Yusuf Pathan (TMC) from Baharampur, West Bengal.
  12. Haji Nurul Islam (TMC) from Basirhat, West Bengal.
  13. Sajeda Ahmed (TMC) from Uluberia, West Bengal.
  14. Khalilur Rahman (TMC) from Jangipur, West Bengal.
  15. Abu Taher (TMC) from Murshidabad, West Bengal.
  16. Isha Khan Choudhary (Congress) from Malda West, West Bengal.
  17. Muhammed Hamdullah Sayeed (Congress) from Lakshadweep.
  18. Navasani K. (IUML) from Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu.
  19. M.P. Abdussamad Samadani (IUML) from Ponnani, Kerala.
  20. Shafi Parambil (Congress) from Vadakara, Kerala.
  21. E.T. Mohammed Basheer (IUML) from Malappuram, Kerala.
  22. Tariq Anwar (Congress) from Katihar, Bihar.
  23. Mohammed Jawed (Congress) from Kishanganj, Bihar.
  24. Rakibul Hussain (Congress) from Dhubri, Assam.

Significantly, Maulana Mohibbullah Nadwi, who won from Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur with a huge margin of 4,82,503 votes, is at present the Imam of the Parliament Masjid in New Delhi. He is the second Imam of a mosque elected as an MP after the veteran Congress leader and freedom fighter Maulana Abul Kalam Azad. He is a product of the world famous Islamic seminary, Nadwatul Ulema, Lucknow.

Fourteen of these MPs have been elected from the constituencies where the Muslim community is in a majority. The Muslim community had its highest-ever presence in the Lok Sabha, at 49, in 1980. In terms of population based on religion, the Muslim community stands second in the country. There are 15 Muslim-majority constituencies in India. Among them, Baharampur in West Bengal elected Congress’s Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury in 2019, who was defeated by TMC’s Yusuf Pathan, a cricketer from Gujarat, this time.

The diminishing number of Muslim legislators may be attributed to the fact that most Opposition parties, since the BJP’s advent to power in 2014, have shied away from giving tickets to Muslim candidates, fearing a polarising contest, with their numbers dropping in each general election. The Congress, SP and TMC, which are key members of the INDIA alliance, have given fewer seats to Muslim candidates.

The Congress nominated Muslims in only 19 seats in the 2024 elections when compared with 34 in 2019, the TMC fielded six Muslim candidates when compared with 13 in 2019, and the Samajwadi Party had only four Muslim candidates this time, half the number it had in 2019. The BJP fielded only one Muslim candidate, M. Abdul Salam from Kerala’s Malappuram, who suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of the IUML candidate. None of the 302 members of the BJP in the outgoing Parliament is Muslim.

The BJP’s ally, Janata Dal (United), also fielded only one Muslim candidate, Mujahid Alam, from Kishanganj in the Seemanchal area of Bihar. The constituency has a Muslim population of 68%. Alam, who is a former JD(U) MLA from Kochadhaman Assembly segment of Kishanganj district, has been defeated by Mohammed Jawed of Congress.

Among the Muslim candidates who won this time, Rakibul Hussain’s victory in Dhubri, Assam, was significant in terms of the winning margin. The Congress candidate secured 14.71 lakh votes and defeated his nearest rival, All India United Democratic Front’s (AIUDF) Mohammad Badruddin Ajmal by one of the highest margins of about 10 lakh votes. This was the most prominent loss for the party seen as a platform for Muslims in the north-eastern state.

Ajmal, a three-time MP, has said his party will make a comeback in the 2026 Assam assembly elections despite a rout in the three Lok Sabha seats his party had contested. Before the elections, Assam Chief Minister Himanta Biswa Sarma had threatened to get Ajmal arrested in case he decides to marry again, saying that the Uniform Civil Code will be implemented in the north-eastern state after the elections.

The Muslim vote in Assam seems to have completely shifted to the INDIA bloc, which AIUDF was not a part of, with the Congress winning three seats and clocking about 37.48% of the vote share. The increased vote share was not able to arrest the BJP’s march, as the saffron party got 37.43% of the votes but managed to win nine seats.

The Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP) fielded 35 Muslim candidates in the 2024 elections, the highest among all parties, though they were about half of the 61 fielded by the party in 2014. The Opposition parties have described the BSP’s move as an attempt to divide Muslims’ votes in the constituencies where they mattered, in order to benefit the BJP. This narrative has gained prominence in several constituencies across the country which have a sizeable number of Muslim voters.

One of the other prominent faces who tasted defeat in Uttar Pradesh was Danish Ali, who had switched over from the BSP to the Congress after BJP’s Ramesh Bidhuri hurled abuses against him in the Parliament. Ali lost with a margin of about 28,000 votes in Amroha, and his defeat has been attributed to the division of votes because of the presence of a Muslim candidate – Mujahid Hussain – fielded by the BSP, who secured 1,64,099 votes.

The thinnest margin with which a Muslim candidate won was in Lakshadweep, where Congress’s Muhammad Hamdullah Sayeed defeated incumbent Mohammed Faizal PP of the Nationalist Congress Party (Sharadchandra Pawar) with a margin of about 2647 votes in the thinly populated constituency.

AIMIM chief Asaduddin Owaisi continued to maintain his winning streak in Hyderabad by maintaining a handsome lead of over 3.38 lakh votes in his bastion, defeating BJP’s Madhavi Latha Kompella. Owaisi won for the fifth consecutive time with a huge margin and the AIMIM secured 11 consecutive victories from Hyderabad. The party has been winning the seat since 1984 and despite the polling percentage turning out to be record low in the election, Owaisi polled 6,61,981 votes with a vote share of 61.28%.

The Hyderabad seat has been the fortress of the Owaisis for four decades now. While the senior Owaisi, Sultan Salahuddin Owaisi, won every election from 1984 to 1999, his son Asaduddin has carried forward the legacy since 2004. He took over the reins of the party after his father’s death in 2008. In the 2024 elections, BJP’s Madhavi Latha was on the ground since the beginning, but her election campaign failed to gather votes in various Assembly constituencies of Hyderabad.

West Bengal has elected the highest number of Muslim MPs this time, from Maldah Dakshin, Jangipur, Baharampur, Murshidabad, Basirhat, and Uluberia. The highest margin was in Basirhat, where the TMC’s S.K. Nurul Islam got 3.3 lakh votes more than BJP candidate and Sandeshkhali survivor Rekha Patra. The slimmest margin in comparison was in Baharampur, where TMC’s Yusuf Pathan defeated Congress heavyweight Adhir Ranjan Choudhary with a margin of 85,000 votes.

The analysis of voting by Muslims has indicated that the community, targeted by the divisive propaganda during the election campaign by none other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi and senior Ministers in his Cabinet, has chosen to exercise the franchise strategically with winnability in mind. The BJP had received 6% of the community’s vote in 2019, but it has decreased significantly this time. Muslims voted overwhelmingly for the backward caste candidates of the parties such as Congress, SP and TMC, besides supporting the contestants belonging to their own community.

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