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Abysmally low Muslim representation in Lok Sabha: A cause of worry


New Delhi, June 01: India is home to 170 million Muslims, the world's second-largest Muslim population but there are very few lawmakers from the community.

Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi became BJP's only Muslim minister in new Modi cabinet. A long-time member of the BJP, he has been a minister in the previous government too but this is his first cabinet post. He has been appointed minister of minority affairs.

Representational Image

Muslims have always been under represented in Indian Parliament, but they are currently at a 50-year low. In the 1980 election, almost 10% of those elected were Muslim. In 2014, it was less than 4%.

Consequently, the gap between their proportion of the population (which rose from 11.1 to 14.2%) and that of their elected representatives in the Lok Sabha (which dropped from 9 to 3.7%) increased fivefold, jumping from two to ten percentage points.

Party-wise representation in 17th Lok Sabha:

The new Lok Sabha has 26 Muslim members of Parliament (MPs), only three more than in the previous legislature. Most of the winning candidates are from opposition parties while only one candidate of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) which won 303 out of 542 seats across the country, could make it to the Lower House.

Saumitra Khan is the lone BJP MP in the current Lok Sabha while Mahbub Ali Kaiser is the Lok Janshakti Party's (LJP) winning candidate from Khagaria in Bihar. Both will be representing the ruling National Democratic Alliance (NDA) in the Lok Sabha.

Owaisi won the Lok Sabha election from Hyderabad by 2,82,186 votes for the fourth time and will became the longest serving Muslim candidate.

Most of the elected Muslim candidates belong to the Congress (5) and Trinamool Congress (5), followed by the Samajwadi Party (3), Bahujan Samaj Party (3) and the Jammu and Kashmir National Conference (3).

A look at the data:

The rise of the BJP has been blamed for the electoral marginalisation of Muslims, with their representation in democratic institutions gradually falling down.

The outgoing Lok Sabha had 23 Muslim MPs, the most being from Congress and TMC. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, no Muslim candidate had won from Uttar Pradesh as the BJP had won 71 of the 80 Lok Sabha seats.

In the 2014 election, Congress contested 464 seats but fielded just 31 Muslim candidates - of those, only seven won. Much hasn't changed in this election - only 32 of the party's 423 candidates are Muslim.

[Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who brought sweeping reforms in Haj policy is lone Muslim face in Modi cabinet][Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi who brought sweeping reforms in Haj policy is lone Muslim face in Modi cabinet]

The highest number of Muslim MPs were in 1980 when as many as 49 MPs from the community which constitute nearly fifth of Indian population present in the Lok Sabha.

The previous 14th and 15th Lok Sabha had 30 and 34 Muslim MPs each when Congress-led UPA was in power. In 1984 when Rajiv Gandhi swept to power following the assassination of his mother and then prime minister Indira Gandhi as many as 42 Muslim MPs were there.

The lowest number of Muslim MPs were in 1952 when just 11 were present in the Lok Sabha.

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