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Muslim ministers: Numbers lag far behind share in population

Of the top 10 states where 80 per cent of India’s Muslims reside, the total strength of the Council of Ministers is 281, out of which only 16 are Muslims.

Written by Zeeshan Shaikh | Mumbai |
Updated: November 27, 2020 7:23:35 am
In Rajya Sabha. As per the 2011 census, Muslims make up 14.2 per cent of the country’s population; however their representation as ministers is only 3.93 per cent. (File Photo)

Last week, a 15-member NDA Cabinet took charge in Bihar, with the BJP as the largest party in the alliance — and without a single Muslim representative. This was the first time in decades that the Bihar government did not have a Muslim minister.

This lack of representation of Muslims in the government isn’t limited to Bihar — or to just an NDA government alone, records scrutinised by The Indian Express show.

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In fact, in most states, when it comes to Muslims in Cabinets, the share of the community is way below their share in the population. And if the BJP’s politics doesn’t open any spaces, even states where the Congress is in power have shown little by way of representation.

Of the top 10 states where 80 per cent of India’s Muslims reside, the total strength of the Council of Ministers is 281, out of which only 16 are Muslims. The representation of the community in the Council of Ministers is only 5.7 per cent — less than a third of their share in the states’ population.

Four of these 10 states, Assam, Karnataka, Gujarat and Bihar — all where the BJP is in power — do not have a single Muslim representative in government.

The only BJP-ruled state that has a Muslim minister is Uttar Pradesh — where Mohsin Raza is the MoS in charge of Minority Welfare.

Just before the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, there was only one state, Gujarat, amongst these 10 states which did not have a Muslim minister. The number of Muslim ministers in these 10 states was also almost double at 34 pre-2014. 📣 Express Explained is now on Telegram

Muslims as per the 2011 census make up 14.2 per cent of the country’s population; however their representation as ministers is only 3.93 per cent.

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In the three states out of the 10 where Congress is part of the government — Rajasthan, Maharashtra, and Jharkhand — only three of the total 38 ministers are Muslims. In Punjab and Chhattisgarh, where the Muslim population is smaller, the Congress state governments have one Muslim each out of 17 and 13 ministers respectively.

Almost every major non-BJP-ruled state has a Muslim minister, with the highest representation in West Bengal (7), followed by Maharashtra (4) and Kerala (2).

The BJP says the absence of Muslim ministers in its governments is because of the absence of support from the community, and their hesitancy to join the party.

“You need reciprocity for any relationship to work. You can’t treat a party like a pariah and then expect it to share power with you. More than the BJP, it is for the (Muslim) community to introspect on this issue. Once the community joins hands with the party, it will be in a better position to bargain for power,” said Jamal Siddiqui, national president of the BJP Minority Cell.

Across India, the BJP has only one elected Muslim MLA: Aminul Haque Laskar, who was elected from Sonai in Assam, and who was recently elected Deputy Speaker of the Assembly.

The only Muslim minister in Uttar Pradesh, Mohsin Raza, is not an MLA — he was elected to the Legislative Council by the BJP-led state government.

In Lok Sabha, too, the BJP has no Muslim representative.

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