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Muslim representation in Assam Assembly
By Muhammad Hasibor Rahman

The results of the 11th Assembly election of Assam show that the voters of the state are quite mature, they know how to preserve the age-old secular tradition of their state.

Rejecting all communal forces, the electorates of Assam have voted the Indian National Congress (INC) to power with comfortable majority. The INC has won 71 seats in the 126 member state legislative body. For ensuring its victory in the election, the Muslim voters have played the major role.

The Muslim candidates have contested the election in as many as 36 Assembly constituencies of the state. A total of 26 Muslim candidates have won the election. The prominent losers in the Assembly election are former Congress chief minister of Assam Anwara Taimur, state samajwadi parti president Abdul Muhim Mazumdar and United Minority Front of Assam chief Hafiz Rashid Chowdhury. The political party wise number of newly elected Muslim representatives of the state legislative body is given as follows:

Muslim Members of Assam Assembly (2001)
Political Party Members
   INC 19
   AGP 04
   NCP 03
   Others 06
   Total 26

Not a single candidate of the united Minority Front of Assam has won the Assembly election. This time two Muslim female candidates – Ms Sharifa Begum from Rupahihat Assembly constituency on the Congress ticket and Ms Hussanara Islam from Mankachar Assembly constituency on the NCP ticket have been declared winners. The SP, the AITC and the SAP have won one seat each while Independent candidates have won three seats in the Assembly election.

The Muslims constitute 28 percent of the state’s total population and have the strength of electing about 30-35 candidates in the Assembly election. But the percentage of their representation to the state legislative body has remained less than the proportion of their population. The main reasons of poor performance of the Muslim candidates in the election are absence of cooperation and understanding among the Muslim leaders of various groups, lack of media coverage of their election, poor planning and paucity of resources required for smooth running their election campaign.

A 17 member Congress ministry headed by Mr Tarun Gogoi as the chief minister has already been installed. Only two Muslim members - Mr Ismail Hussain as the cabinet minister and Mr Nazimul Omar as the minister of state are inducted in the ministry. Muslim representation in the ministry is far below their expectation.

While calling upon the people of Assam to guard against the communal and divisive forces and to maintain peace and harmony among them for the interest of the state, the powerful All Assam Minority Students' union has extended its final support to the Gogui ministry.

The Muslims of Assam have a very high hope of receiving better treatment from the Congress ministry of the state. They are in need of security and employment opportunities for this young generation. They have also a number of demands like rehabilitation of flood affected people and victims of Nellie and Bodoland massacres and restoration of the names of 3.75 lakh 'D' voters to the electoral rolls. However, it remains to be seen as to what extent the Congress government of the state will fulfill the expectations of the largest minority community of the state.

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