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Published in the 16-30 Jun 2004 print edition of MG; send me the print edition

Muslims in Lok Sabha
By Ahmad Rashid Shervani

The easiest thing to do is to just start wailing and whimpering : "Look, out of 540 or so seats in the new Lok Sabha, we poor, sweet Muslims have got only 36. This is very unfair, cruel. We are being deprived of our fair share under a sochee, samjhee, Muslim-dushman saazish …" bla, bla. Say all this and prove that you are a big ghamkhwaar-e-millat. What next? Nothing. There are dozens who do just this, nothing more. Sent a muraasala or article to a milli newspaper / journal and lambee taan kar soe gaye. 

Some aqalmandaan-e-millat do not rest content with aah-o-zaari, they put forth "concrete" proposals. Such as? 'Reservation for Muslims'. Anything else? 'Proportional Representation'. Some have a wonderfully simpler solution : "Before every election, we will issue a list of candidates for whom every Muslim must vote. If only Muslims just vote as we say, we bet they will get their full share of seats and much more". These people have been at it for almost half-a-century.

I have a bad habit of trying to, first of all, know the facts. Then understand, analyze these. Even if any pontification must be done, it should be done only thereafter. So, first of all the facts. We all know that 36 Muslims have been elected to the new Lok Sabha. What is our due share? I have collected, calculated compiled, analyzed facts given in the Chart.

Total population figures only upto 2001 are available. I have added 7% for annual increase in the last three years and the figures so computed are given in the Chart. Figures of Muslim population are NOT available even upto 2001. We repeatedly asked for these. We were told that these are being compiled. When our reminders became too persistent, we learnt, informally, that these figures would be revealed after elections. What has election to do with it? We were given to understand that our sarkaar buland iqbaal believes in transparency and in every Indian's right to be fully informed so ardently and fervently that it must hide the community-wise population figures of the 2001 census even in April 2004.

So, I had no option but to take the 1991 figures of Muslim population and calculate the probable figures in 2004 on the basis of the annual average rate of increase from 1981 to 1991. A poor Muslim having to calculate! How cruel, no? So, the heartening figures of Muslim population, All-India and in each state, are given in the Chart. 

Caution. As the 1991 figures of U P, Bihar and M P show the population before Uttaranchal, Jharkhand and Chhattisgarh were separated, the 2004 figures of Muslim population in these six states are estimated. For instance, the Muslim population in U P was 2,41,09,684 in 1991. By 2004, it is likely to have become 3,42,35,751 in U P and Uttaranchal together. I have put 3,30,00,000 in U P and 12,35,000 in Uttaranchal. Similarly, the figures of the other two states each bifurcated into two are estimates. When official figures of Muslim population in 2001 are ultimately released, these figures may have to be adjusted accordingly. Till then…

The total population of India in 2004 is 110,00,00,000 and the population of Muslims is 15,14,20,000 or about 14%. So, the "fair share" of 14% Muslims works out to 75 seats in Lok Sabha. Will this hearten the leedaraan-e-millat who, so far, have been harping upon only 70 seats as the "fair share" of Muslims. Or, will it make them more sad because, so far, they were doing the maatam of 34/ 70 or only 49% haq-talfi, now they will have to do maatam of 39 / 75 or 52% haq-talfi? Anyway, the choice is theirs.

Leaving leedaraan-e-millat to keep doing what they want, let us go on and see what is what, where. Take U P first. Why? Firstly, because I am from UP. If that is not sufficient reason, then because 22% of all Muslim Indians are in U P, which is only one-sixth India in total population BUT about one-fourth Muslim India in Muslim population. 

Muslims constitute 19% of the population of U P and so their "fair share" in 80 seats from U P is 15. They have got only 11. Our 4 seats snatched from us! Who snatched? "They", of course. Who are "they"? Don't you know, the same who are always snatching from poor, sweet Muslims. Anyway, before crying about the snatching, let us thank those who have given us 11 seats in UP. Samajwadi Party has given us 7 / 36 or about 19% seats, exactly according to our population in UP. So kind. Bahujan Samaj Party has given us 4 / 16 or 25% seats, more than our proportion in the population of U P. More than so kind. Congress has given us none. Bad!

Bharatiya Janta Party has given us none. Did I hear anyone say "Bad"?

Victorious Muslims
I have before me the figures of votes polled by the first four candidates of each of the 11 seats won by a Muslim. The biggest poller of votes is Mr Afzal Ansari of S P who polled 4,15,687 votes in Ghazipur defeating BJP by a large margin. He polled more than the next three combined. Let us call him the ghaazi of Ghazipur. Mr Ateeq Ahmad, also of S P, won in Phulpur. Three of BSP, Mr Mohammad Tahir in Sultanpur, Mr Mohammad Shahid Akhtar Quraishy in Meerut and Mr Mohammad Muqeem in Domariaganj won comfortably. One thing common in all these five seats is that no other Muslim candidate is mentioned. Either there was none, or none worth mentioning, perhaps. 

Mr Ilyas Azmi of BSP won from Shahabad defeating BJP by over 46,000 votes although Mr Babu Khan of S P split 1,57,000 votes. Someone can say that Mr Khan tried to make BJP win but, luckily, couldn't. However, this harkat was done by more Muslims of BSP and some of Congress etc. in five constituencies from which SP Muslims won. In Moradabad, Mr Shafiqur Rehman Barq defeated BJP by 35,843 votes inspite of two other Muslim candidates (Mr Iftekhar Ahmad of BSP and Mr Mohammad Masood of NLP) splitting 2,33,000 votes. Ms Rubab Syeda in Bahraich defeated BJP by 26,334 votes inspite of Dr AR Khan of Congress splitting 22,000 votes. She is the only Muslim lady in the new Lok Sabha from UP. In Muzaffarnagar, Mr Munawwar Hasan defeated BJP by 59,005 votes inspite of Mr Saeeduz Zaman of Congress splitting 1,05,000 votes. In Budaun, Mr Salim Iqbal Shervani defeated BJP by 51,322 votes inspite of Mr Mehboob Ansari of Congress splitting 20,000 votes. You may say all Muslims who split Muslim votes, tried to help BJP to win. 

So, five Muslims won araam se as each was the only Muslim candidate. At least the millat was not divided here. Five more won even though the millat was divided. One seat, I think needs special mention. In Saharanpur, two Muslim ex-MPs had a really tough contest. Mr Rasheed Masood of S P won polling 3,53,272 votes defeating Nawab Mansoor Ali Khan of BSP who polled 3,26,444 votes. BJP was third with 2,30,000 votes.

These were the victors. Let us wish them all the best and go on to see those shahsawaars who fell in maidaan-e-jang. 

Tell me, if one Muslim lost by 1000 votes and another lost by 1,00,000 votes, will you feel more sorry for the first? Or, for the second? Arithmetically, you should feel hundred times as sorry for the second as for the first. But, will you? Leaving you to think, I go on to nine Muslims who were second, i.e., who could have won. There could be 9 more or 20 Muslims in Lok Sabha from U P alone. Imagine! 

The narrowest margin was in Farrukhabad where Mrs Louise Khurshid of Congress lost by only 2745 votes. Second, in Sitapur Mr Mukhtar Anis of S P lost by just 5234 votes. Third, in Lakhimpur Kheri Mr Daud Ahmad of BSP lost by 11,760 votes. Fourth, in Kaiserganj Mr Arif Mohammad Khan of BJP lost by 12,713 votes. Fifth, in Bulandshahr Mr Badrul Islam R L D lost by 16,651 votes. Sixth, in Amroha Maulana Mahmood Madani Saheb of R L D lost by just 17,884 votes. Had these six won (and each could well have) Muslims would have got 17 seats from U P, two more than their "fair share". So, instead of blabbering needlessly about 'reservation' or 'proportional representation', the practical aspects are more worthy of your kind attention and the needful, if you please.
Seventh, in Balrampur Mr Rizwan Zaheer of BSP lost by 52,613 votes. Eighth, in Bareli Mr Akbar Ahmad Dumpy of BSP lost by 57,640 votes. Ninth, Begum Noor Bano Saheba of Congress lost by 85,474 votes. Tenth, Mr Shahnawaz Khan was second in Kairana but the margin was so wide that we cannot say he almost won. 

Out of these ten second-positioners, three lost to BJP. In Bareli, Mr Islam Sabir of S P helped BJP to win. In Balrampur, Dr Mohammad Umar of SP helped BJP to win. In Bulandshahr no Muslim candidate helped BJP to win. In seven seats, Muslims lost to Non-Muslim candidates of one of the secular parties. Not so sad, I suppose. Or, is it sadder?

There are some Muslims who came third or fourth but polled substantial votes. These are Mrs Talat Aziz of BSP in Maharajganj, Mr Ayyub Ali of BSP in Hapur, Mr Anis Ahmad of BSP in Pilibhit, Haji Mushtaq Saheb of S P in Hapur, Mr Athar Jamal of Apna Dal in Varanasi, Mr Khan Ghufran Zahidi of Congress in Fatehpur, Mr Fazlul Bari of B SP in Gonda, Mr Nasir Ali Siddiqui of BSP in Lucknow, Mr Arshad Khan of NLP in Khalilabad, Mr Alauddin Khan of Congress in Aonla. Any others? You please tell me if you know of any.

Moral of the story
Every story has (or at least ought to have) a moral. What is the moral of this story? Not one, many. First, Muslims should stop believing that everyone is out to deprive them of their due share. BSP gave them more tickets than their due share. SP gave them tickets according to their due share. Congress could also have brought in two Muslims in Lok Sabha if another secular party had not split votes. Even BJP almost brought a Muslim in, though I wonder whether most Muslims are sorry about it or happy. Anyway, Muslims lost some seats only because other Muslims split the votes. So, more than anyone else, Muslims themselves deprived other Muslims. Stop blaming others, mend your own waywardness. This is the first moral of the story.

Take more interest in, try to be a more useful, more effective member of whichever party one is in. Don't just rush for a ticket when election comes, participate in party activities all along. Try to win the confidence of Non-Muslims also. Those who have won are generally those who have done something for all the people in their constituency, not just depend upon the Muslim votes. This is an advice for Muslim candidates who most probably already know it better than me and are doing what is suggested above.

Now something for an average Muslim. Sometimes a party may give a ticket to a Muslim knowing that he is bound to lose. Why? May be because he pestered the party leaders for a ticket, may be he even gave a big chanda, may be just to show how kind it is to Muslims. These reasons are tolerable. However, I cannot help feeling that quite often Muslims have been given tickets just so that they may poll some votes which may increase the party's total tally of votes and help it to get or retain recognition as a national party. This may be good for the party but it is NOT good either for Muslims or for co-ordination between secular parties. Muslims should avoid being pawns of any party. Non-serious Muslim candidates, those who are definite losers, lower Muslims in the esteem of others and, what is worse, they often help undesirable elements to win. Common Muslims should shun such Muslim candidates, give them no quarter.

There are some more points but enough for now. Next I may take up another state or some states together. «

State-Wise Muslim Population & Proportion in seats in Lok Sabha

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