The newly elected Gujarat assembly has only one Muslim member, the worst political representation for Muslims in states where they form at least five percent of the population.

The Bharatiya Janata Party swept the assembly elections last week, winning 156 of the 182 seats. The Congress tally dropped from 77 seats to just 16. One of those seats, Jamalpur-Khadia, was won by Imran Khedwada.

Muslims account for nearly 10% of Gujarat’s population. A lone MLA in the assembly means the community’s political representation – 0.5% – is nowhere near its population share. Proportionate representation would mean 18 MLAs in the house. In the earlier assembly, there were three Muslims, all from the Congress.

Only once before in Gujarat’s electoral history has Muslim representation been this low in the state assembly: in 1995 when the BJP first came to power in the state.

A problem across the board

Gujarat might be the worst off when it comes to political representation for Muslims. But the community is underrepresented in every Indian state.

Only Kerala, ruled by a Left coalition, comes anywhere close to fair representation for Muslims. In the 140-seater assembly, there are 32 Muslim MLAs, almost proportionate to the community’s population share of 26.56%.

Delhi is a distant second. Among its 70 MLAs, five are Muslims, all of them from the Aam Aadmi Party. Around 13% of Delhi’s residents are Muslims, which makes their representation in the assembly just above half their population share.

Among the larger states, the Trinamool Congress-run West Bengal and Bharat Rashtra Samithi-ruled Telengana fare the best – though Muslim representation in their respective state assembly is only marginally greater than half of their share in the population.

Among BJP-ruled states, Assam, where the community adds up to over 32%, boasts of the most representative assembly: in the 126-seater house, 21 Muslim MLAs adds up to nearly 17% representation. None of the Muslims MLAs, however, are from the ruling party.

Uttar Pradesh, where the largest number of Indian Muslims live, is also plagued by inadequate representation. While Muslims account for nearly 20% of the state’s population, they are less than 9% in the assembly. In a house of 403 legislators, only 34 are Muslim. Again, none of them are from the BJP which governs the state with a massive majority.

Most states on the lower end of Muslim representation are BJP-run with the exception of Andhra Pradesh.

Madhya Pradesh, which was overtaken by Gujarat as the worst-represented state, has only two Muslim MLAs in its 230-seater Assembly. That amounts to just over 2% even as Muslims account for 6.57% of the state’s population.

While Muslims have historically been underrepresented in India, the rise of the BJP has made things worse, say observers. Starting in July, for the first time in India’s history, the treasury benches of the Indian Parliament ceased to have any Muslim member.

As political scientist Christopher Jafferlot notes in his book Majoritarian State: How Hindu Nationalism is Changing India, “…while Muslims have traditionally been underrepresented within the institutions of the Indian republic, this phenomenon, which was primarily salient in the police, the army and the administration, has now been extended to elected assemblies owing to the rise in power of the BJP.”