Political Representation of Muslims In India: 1952-2004

Book: Political Representation of Muslims In India: 1952-2004
Author: Iqbal A. Ansari
Publisher: Manak Publications, New Delhi
Year: 2006
Pages:  418

The analysis of data on Muslim represenation reveals an average of about 50% under-representation in the Central and State legislatures, on the basis of their expected share according to population.

In the introduction the author has dealt with the whole story of the issue of adequate safeguards for political rights of minorities during freedom movement, various stages of the framing of the Constitution and the debates in the Constituted Assembly and assurances given to minorities, which remained unfulfilled, though Nehru had called it 'an act of faith'.

In the conclusion a set of reform measures have been suggested to ensure fair representation of all under-represented segments like Muslims, women, and most backward castes by adopting devices like multi-member constituencies or some variant of PR system. It also recommends provision of a given number of additional uncontested seats, to be filled by best losers from among recognized categories like minorities, women and backward castes.

The study with its rich data and analysis can be used by academics as well as political practitioners to develop models and policies for making India not only 'secular majoritarian' but also an inclusive democracy.

Following is the pattern of variation of periodic and regional deprivation:

  • The most Muslim friendly period -1978-1984. Highest number of Muslim M.Ps elected in 1980 for the seventh Lok Sabha: 49- which is 9.26% for a population of 11.21%.
  • Minimum regional Muslim deprivation in the Lok Sabha - Jammu & Kashmir, Assam and Karnataka.
  • Maximum regional Muslim deprivation in the Lok Sabha - Gujarat, Rajasthan and Delhi.

Analysis of constituency-wise pattern also makes interesting revelations.
Of all the Muslim members of the fourteen Lok Sabha's about 10 to 15 % were elected from marginal (less than 10% Muslims), 27% from medium (11 to 20 % Muslims), 32 % from sizable (21 to 50 % Muslims) and 26% from majority Muslim constituencies.

In spite of the shadow of partition the share of marginal Muslim constituencies (less than 10% Muslim) towards total Muslim representation in the Lok Sabha during 1952-62 was 20.58%, which has decreased to 4.03% during 1996-2004.
The following is the pattern of under-representation in the State Assemblies:

% of deprivation
The most deprived States
Gujarat                 79.27
Karnataka                70.69        
The least deprived States
Delhi                 11.76
Kerala                17.55
Madhya Pradesh Assembly 1993    100

Again except for Andhra Pradesh and West Bengal, Muslims were least deprived in all other ten State Assemblies during 1977-85.

The tables provide detailed data on constituency-wise nomination of Muslims by all political parties in all the Lok Sabha and twelve State Assembly elections from 1952 to 2004, along with total seats that each party contested. Pattern of nomination of Muslims by political parties reveals that the Indian National Congress did not fulfil its promise of due share made in the Constituent Assembly to minorities (especially Muslims) while nominating candidates. While the CPI (M) nominated a fair percentage (9.34) of Muslim candidates for Lok Sabha elections, its share of Muslim nomination to West Bengal State Assembly is only 12.48%, though the average of Muslim population in the State has been 21%. Data on nomination by most other major parties like SP, JD and BSP have been analysed.

This article appeared in The Milli Gazette print issue of 1-15 December 2009 on page no. 28

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