The number of Muslim parliamentarians in the 17th Lok Sabha has increased by four, with 27 candidates from the community winning the elections on Thursday. The outgoing Lok Sabha had 23 Muslim MPs, many of whom were from the Congress and the Trinamool Congress.
The highest number of Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha was in 1980, when 49 legislators from the community were elected, according to PTI.
Like in 2014, the Bharatiya Janata Party is the only winning party to not have a single Muslim MP. The party had fielded three Muslim candidates in Kashmir, two in West Bengal, and one in Lakshadweep. However, all six of them were defeated.
Uttar Pradesh and West Bengal, which have a considerable Muslim population, are sending six legislators each from the community. In the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, no Muslim candidate had won from Uttar Pradesh.
Bahujan Samaj Party candidates Afzal Ansari from Ghazipur, Fazalur Rahman from Saharanpur and Danish Ali in Amroha, and Samajwadi Party’s Azam Khan from Rampur, Shafique Rehman Barq from Sambhal and ST Hasan from Moradabad made their way to the Lok Sabha. The Congress had fielded six Muslim candidates in Uttar Pradesh, but none of them won a seat.
Five MPs from the Trinamool Congress and one from the Congress will be present in the Lok Sabha from West Bengal.
Jammu and Kashmir, a Muslim-majority state, is sending three MPs, all from the National Conference. Bihar, which had sent four Muslim MPs to the Lok Sabha in 2014, will only have two MPs from the community this year. Three Muslim MPs from Kerala, while two from Assam will also be in the 17th Lok Sabha.
Mohammed Faizal of the Nationalist Congress Party won the lone seat in Lakshadweep. The Congress’ Mohammad Sadique also won the Faridkot seat from Punjab. Indian Union Muslim League candidate K Navas Kani won from Ramanathapuram in Tamil Nadu.
The All India Majlis-e-Itthadul Muslimeen will have two candidates in Parliament – party chief Asaduddin Owaisi from Hyderabad and Imtiaz Jaleel from Aurangabad in Maharashtra. Jaleel’s victory gains significance as Aurangabad is not a Muslim majority constituency. The party in Maharashtra had formed an alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahugan Aghadi.
Muslims constitute 10.5% of the country’s population, but their representation in the new Lok Sabha will be 4.42%, according to The New Indian Express.
Since 2014, much of the Modi government faced allegations of marginalising Muslims in the country. Mob violence, in the form of “cow protection”, targetted primarily Muslims, and there has been a lack of action in cases of assaults and lynchings of people involved in the cattle trade. Since 2012, at least 46 people have been murdered in cow-related violence across India, with 57% of the victims being Muslims.
While democratic representation has dropped in the Modi years, Muslims have always had low representation in the permanent sections of the Indian state.
Political scientist Gilles Verniers believes anti-Muslim sentiment stoked by some in the BJP has led to fewer Muslim candidates outside the BJP. Fearing being tagged “anti-Hindu”, the Congress and other parties are refraining from promoting Muslim candidates, the political scientist has said.
Corrections and clarifications: This article has been edited to add the names of three more Muslim candidates who have been elected to the Lok Sabha in the 2019 elections.