The outgoing Lok Sabha had the lowest representation of Muslims since 1952. Only 23 Muslim MPs made it to the Lok Sabha in 2014. This time the number has increased marginally. At the time of writing this story, 26 Muslim candidates were leading across in different constituencies in the country.
However, the number of Muslim MPs from the Congress is likely to be at an all time low of three.
The most important development in this respect is the victory of Imtiaz Jaleel, the All India Majlis-e-Itthadul Muslimeen candidate in Aurangabad, Maharashtra. For the first time since its inception, the AIMIM will have two MPs in Parliament. So far the party was restricted to its bastion Hyderabad that it has won continuously since 1984.
Jaleel’s win is particularly significant as Aurangabad isn’t a Muslim majority constituency. The community accounts for just about 25 percent of the electorate in the seat. It appears that a large chunk of Dalits also voted for Jaleel due to his alliance with Prakash Ambedkar’s Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi.
He also benefited due to the presence of Shiv Sena rebel Harshwardhan Jadhav, who polled over 2.8 lakh votes and ate into the vote share of outgoing Sena MP Chandrakant Khaire.
This has been a good election for the AIMIM – party chief Asaduddin Owaisi won his fourth term as MP by defeating his BJP rival Bhagvant Rao by over 3.5 lakh votes in Hyderabad. This is bigger than his margin in 2014.
The party also put up a good fight in the Kishanganj seat in Bihar, where its candidate Akhtarul Iman secured around 25 percent of the votes. These were the only three seats AIMIM contested.
Another Muslim-dominated party – the Indian Union Muslim League – won all the three seats it contested. Its candidates PK Kunhalikutty and ET Muhammad Basheer won from the IUML bastions in Kerala – Malappuram and Ponnani respectively. In addition to this, the IUML’s Nawaz Kani won from the Ramanathapuram seat in Tamil Nadu, as part of the DMK-led alliance.
However, much of the increase in the number of Muslim MPs comes from the Mahagathbandhan in Uttar Pradesh, where 6 Muslim MPs are reportedly winning:
BSP: Haji Fazlur Rehman (Saharanpur), Kunwar Danish Ali (Amroha) and Afzal Ansari (Ghazipur).
SP: Azam Khan (Rampur), Shafique Rehman Barq (Sambhal) and ST Hassan (Moradabad).
Despite a poor showing in rest of the state, the alliance did well in the Muslim dominated Rohilkhand region. Nearly one in three Mahagathbandhan MPs and almost half of the Samajwadi Party MPs in Uttar Pradesh are Muslims.
In 2014, not a single Muslim was elected in Uttar Pradesh when NDA swept 73 out of 80 seats in the state.
The new Lok Sabha will see a sizeable number of articulate Muslim MPs with strong opinions such as Azam Khan, Imtiaz Jaleel, Shafiqur Rehman Barq and ST Hassan, besides the ones who got re-elected such as Asaduddin Owaisi, PK Kunhalikutty and Badruddin Ajmal.
However, there has been a slight fall in the number of possible Muslim MPs from West Bengal from eight in 2014 to six. The MPs leading are: Khalilur Rahaman in Jangipur, actor Nusrat Jahan Ruhi in Basirhat, Sajda Ahmed in Ulubeira, Abu Taher Khan in Murshidabad and Aparupa Poddar (Afrin Ali) in Arambagh (All from Trinamool Congress). Abu Hashem Khan Chowdhury of the Congress is also leading in Maldah Dakshin by a narrow margin.
Two Muslim candidates are leading in Bihar: Chaudhary Mehboob Ali Kaiser of the Lok Janshakti Party in Khagaria and Mohammad Jawed of the Congress in Kishanganj. Like 2014, Kaiser is the only Muslim candidate from the NDA to win.
Only two Muslim MPs were elected in Assam, where the community forms over 30 percent of the population. These are Badruddin Ajmal from AIUDF in Dhubri and Abdul Khaleque of the Congress in Barpeta.
AIUDF’s strength has reduced from three in the outgoing Lok Sabha to just one.
In Jammu and Kashmir, three Muslims were elected in the Muslim-majority seats in the Kashmir Valley, all belonging to the National Conference: Farooq Abdullah in Srinagar, Mohammad Akbar Lone in Baramulla and Hasnain Masoodi in Anantnag, who defeated former chief minister Mehbooba Mufti of the PDP.
Two other Muslim candidates leading are AM Ariff in Alappuzha, the only Left candidate to win in a Congress sweep in Kerala. and Mohammad Faizal of the NCP in Lakshadweep.
Only three Muslims were elected on Congress tickets this time: Mohammad Jawed in Kishanganj, Abdul Khaleque in Barpeta and AH Khan Chowdhury in Maldah Dakshin. Last time 4 Muslims had won on Congress tickets.
With Muslim representation in the Congress at an all time low, the party will find it difficult to maintain its support in the community and it is likely to face a strong challenge from parties like AIMIM, SP and BSP, who will have more articulate Muslim MPs in Parliament.
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