BJP Only Party To Re-send Retiring Muslim MPs To Rajya Sabha

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BJP Only Party To Re-send Retiring Muslim MPs To Rajya Sabha

Number of Muslims in Parliament likely to go down further in June after Rajya Sabha elections.

Highlights

  1. In 2014, only 23 Muslims were elected to the 545-member Lok Sabha
  2. Of the 58 MPs retiring from the Rajya Sabha this year, six are Muslims
  3. BJP is sending back its two retiring Muslim MPs to the Rajya Sabha
In 2014, India elected only 23 Muslims for the 545- member Lok Sabha - the lowest ever. The biggest contributor to the slide was the country's most populous state Uttar Pradesh, which did not elect a single member of the community.

Opposition parties and analysts alleged that it was due to a polarisation of voters via a soft Hindutva agenda that the BJP pursued during the campaign

Exactly two years later, the Rajya Sabha biennial election on June 11 is sending a worrying message.

Of the 58 MPs retiring from the Upper House or the house of states, six are Muslims. Two of them - AA Tak and Mohsina Kidwai - are from the Congress party, the BJP has two retiring Muslim MPs - MJ Akbar and minister Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi - and Mayawati's BSP one, Salim Ansari. And then there is one Janata Dal (United) member, Gulam Rasool Balyawi.

The two retiring Muslims do not figure in the list of candidates announced by the Congress party so far - P Chidambaram, Kapil Sibal, Jairam Ramesh, Vivek Tankha, Oscar Fernandez, Ambika Soni, Chhaya Verma and Pradeep Tamta.

In fact, there is no indication as yet that the any of the two retiring Muslim Congress members will return.

The BSP's Salim Ansari from UP is retiring and Mayawati's party has announced two candidates for the seats that it will win - the party's Brahmin face Satish Mishra and Ashok Siddharth.

Even UP's ruling Samajwadi Party, which will lay strong claim to the Muslim vote in the state's assembly elections in early 2017, has picked not one Muslim candidate for the Rajya Sabha. It has two MPs retiring and can send back seven to the Rajya Sabha.  

So Uttar Pradesh, which has no Muslims MPs in the Lok Sabha, looks set to have only four Muslim MPs in the Upper House after two retire by August. That effectively means that four people will represent UP's four crore Muslims in Parliament.

From Bihar, the ruling Janata Dal (United)'s Gulam Rasool Balyawi will not return. The party has fielded its former president Sharad Yadav and Nitish Kumar's aide RCP Singh. Partner Lalu Yadav has opted for his daughter Misa Bharti and his lawyer Ram Jethmalani

The BJP stands out. It is sending back its two retiring Muslim MPs to the Rajya Sabha. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi is being fielded from Jharkhand and MJ Akbar from Madhya Pradesh.

Till the end of the Budget session this month, there were 24 Muslims in the Rajya Sabha; post the June 11 election, the number will be down to 20.

It's not a trend in Parliament alone. When India elects its new President and Vice President next year, the electoral college will have fewer Muslims. Lawmakers from the two houses of Parliament and legislators from state assemblies vote in those elections. .

In 2012, the electoral college had 410 (8.37 % of the total) Muslim members. At that time, of the 776 MPs in Parliament 53 were Muslim. And of a total 4120 lawmakers in the country, 357 were Muslims.

A lot has changed since. The Congress, which had a relatively better track record of sending Muslims to legislative bodies is marginalised now in several states. The rise of the BJP in states like Assam has also shrunk the number of Muslims in state assemblies.

The Indian Constitution stressed on "adequate representation." The fall in the number of Muslim MPs and lawmakers will reduce the community's influence in choosing the President, the guardian of the Indian Constitution, and the Vice President, highlighting a "representation deficit" that all political parties must shoulder blame for.

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