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Rise of BJP and Socio Political Status of Indian Muslims

The most obvious impact of the rise of BJP is the declining Muslim representations in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies

Indian Muslims in Politics

This is Part 2 of the report based on the lecture of Christophe Jaffrelot, a French Political Scientist specializing in South Asia especially, India and Pakistan, Author of many books, who talked extensively on the conditions of Indian Muslims and the way forward in a webinar. (Read Part 1: Indian Muslims in 73rd year of Independence)

Although Christophe Jaffrelot felt that there are many issues, however, he chose to deal with two questions of the Marginalisation of Muslims in Assemblies and Discrimination of Muslims by the police in different states.

Marginalization of Muslims in Parliament and Assemblies

Since the 1980s Muslim Representations in Lok Sabha are constantly declining. Quoting from the data he said:

“In 1980 when Muslims were 11% of the society, 49 MPs were elected that is 9% of total Lok Sabha seats. It has been reduced to its lowest in 2014 when BJP won majority seats and form the government. 24 Muslim MPs i.e. below 4% of total Lok Sabha got elected, because, the BJP did not have a single MP.

The first time in Indian history, the party that won the National election does not have a single Muslim MP. However, in 2019, Muslim MPs won 27 seats, a marginal increase from 24 to 27 but remain below 5% of total Lok Sabha seats.

What is true at LS is equally true to the State Assemblies

Gujarat with 9.1 % Muslim population has only 1.6% of the Muslim MLAs. It used to be 6% in the early 80s.

Only 3.1% Muslim MLAs in Karnataka with 12.2% Muslim population, in the late 70s they were more than 7%.

Madhya Pradesh, with 6.4% of Muslim Population has only 0.4% of Muslims in the Assembly. Christophe Jaffrelotte said, in fact, only one MLA is Muslim. In the early 1970s, it used to be 2.7%.

Maharashtra, the Muslim population is more than 10% but only 3.1% of MLAs are Muslims. They used to be 9% in the mid-80s.

Orissa only 2% of Muslim population Muslim MLAs are only 0.7%. They were 2.7% in the mid-80s.

Rajasthan 1% MLAs are Muslim they used to be 5% in the early 80s.

UP is the most interesting case. Christophe Jaffrelot said, “Before 2017, till the BJP won, 16.9% MLAs were Muslims with 18.5% Muslim population.” In 2017 the Muslim MLAs reduced to only 5.7% of MLAs.

The only exception to this trend is the West Bengal. “It is atypical, it’s increasing,” Christophe Jaffrelotte said. With 25.2% Muslim Population, Muslim MLAs are 20%. In 1985 only 2.9% MLAs we’re Muslims.

The most obvious impact of the rise of BJP is the declining Muslim representations in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.

Discrimination of Muslims by Police

The other impact he focused upon is what he drew from a survey report of CSDS in 2019, that “the police was seen by the Muslims as biased“.

Muslims are more fearful of police than any other group, Dalits came second, after that.

When asked why? It was usually said that “Police often implicate Muslims under forced terrorism charges. There are cases when young Muslims who have been jailed and spent years in jail for this reason.”

Christophe Jaffrelotte quoted last NCRB report released in 2015 that stated 21% of inmates in jail are Muslims, an over-representation in terms of their share of 14.5% in the total population.

He compared it with the blacks in American Jail. He said:

“This over-representation is somewhat proportionate to the over-representation of “the Blacks” in American Jail.”

It is more interesting to know when you look at those, who are sentenced and not under trial, then the rate drops to 15.8% from 21%, directly proportionate to their population in India.

It means that, indeed, many Muslims have gone to jail because the Police suspected wrongly that were implicated in some crime. When the judiciary could look at the files they were made free.

Christophe Jaffrelotte concluded:

“That is certainly another recent development that goes with the new Dispensation in Indian politics.

He also assumes that it is the reflection of the Muslims’ underrepresentation in the Indian Police.

The fact of the matter is that Muslims have not been pampered by Congress since 1947. If it would, then we would have different Socio Political profile of Indian Muslims.

Christophe Jaffrelot said:

…. that the data, I have used suggest, the fact, Muslim situation has deteriorated since the 1990s to 2000s and even more in the subsequent years. That is of course in parallel to the rise of the BJP that has not nominated Muslim candidates.

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