Muslim Representation in New Assemblies

No Happy Augury
Assembly Elections in Five States – Muslim Representation Goes Up
Muslim Representation Slightly Up

In the just concluded elections for Assemblies in four major states and a Union Territory, a total of 125 Muslim representatives could get elected among the total 824 members. Given the fact that three of the four states had Muslim population ranging between 25 and 36 per cent, the representation in those states comes to around 22%.

By A Staff Writer

Thirty Muslim MLAs were elected for the 126-member Assam Assembly. West Bengal electorate sent 57 Muslims MLAs to the 294-member Assembly. Thirty two Muslims were able to reach the 140-member Kerala Assembly. However, in Tamil Nadu, only five Muslims figure among the 232 new MLAs (election for two more seats has been suspended and is likely to be held after a month). In Puducherry, which has a 30-member Assembly, only a single Muslim finds mention. Going by the population statistics, Muslim constitute 31% in Assam, 27% in West Bengal, 5.5% in Tamil Nadu, 25% in Kerala and less than 5% in Puducherry.

30 in Assam
The election which saw advent of BJP in power in Assam for the first time, while spelling a doom for the Congress, caused a setback to the All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), a party floated by perfume business tycoon Badruddin Ajmal. Having notched 18 seats (and also Opposition status) in 2011-16 Assembly, the party’s representation declined to mere 13 in the 126-member House. Of the 13, a non-Muslim (Ananth Kumar Malo from Abhayanpuri South reserved constituency) too has been elected on AIUDF ticket from reserved constituencies. Party supremo Badruddin Ajmal himself suffered defeat from the home Dhubri Assembly seat (although he continues to represent the Dhubri Lok Sabha constituency in Lok Sabha). Fifteen MLAs have been elected on the Indian National Congress ticket whereas even the BJP has two Muslim MLAs.
As for West Bengal, 57 Muslims were elected for the 294-member Assembly, two less than the last tenure. The largest contingent i.e., 30 MLAs comes from the All India Trinamool Congress which received a second and enhanced mandate to rule the State. Indian National Congress has 18 Muslim MLAs among its total 44. Another seven Muslim members could get elected on the Communist Party of India (Marxist) ticket and a lone on the CPI’s. The Forward Bloc could also get one Muslim elected on its party ticket. Surprisingly, a record eight Muslim women could make it to Writer’s Building this time.
However, most of the West Bengal Muslim MLAs are either greenhorns or inexperienced. Prominent among the MLAs are Firhad Hakim, veteran TMC leader considered to be close to Didi. Jakir Hussain who got elected from Sarukhetri constituency is a beedi works owner. Javed Ahmed Khan elected from Kasba is also a known leader and may be inducted into the cabinet. Iqbal Ahmed representing Khanakul is brother of Sultan Ahmed, former minister. Aneesur rahman from Domkal Assembly segment is a former minister. Late Deputy Speaker Kalimuddin Shams’ son Moinuddin Shams has reached the Assembly on TMC ticket. Spiritual leader Dr. Nuruzzaman elected from Pursurah has also been a known leader. Among the lot representing CPM, Abdur Razzak Mullah is an experienced legislator. He represents Bhandaur.

32 Muslims in Kerala house
In Kerala, 32 Muslims were elected to the new 140-member House. Of these 18 were elected on the ticket of Indian Union Muslim League whose overall strength has declined from 21 in the previous Assembly. Seven Muslims could get elected on the CPI(M) and one on CPI. Three Muslims figure as independent MLAs. One Muslim member represents a small party National Secular Conference. The IUML could win the Manjeswar seat in Kasaragod district by a very slender margin of only 89 votes against BJP’s Surendran. The seat was being counted as sure shot for the BJP prior to election. The BJP opened its account in the Kerala Assembly with its old warhorse Mr. O. Rajagopal winning the Nemom seat.
Tamil Nadu Assembly has always had low representation of the comm unity as religious identity gets subsumed in the overall Dravidian politics of the State. This time around also, only five Muslims figures among the new Muslim MLAs. Dr. Nilofer Kafeel, chairman of the municipality in Vaniyambadi, got elected on the AIADMK ticket. Another Muslim to be elected on the AIADMK ticket is Thameemun Ansari from Nagapattinam. A lone IUML member represents the party from Kadayanallur seat. The DMK got two Muslim MLAs elected from Gingee and Palayamkottai. Anotable defeat is that of Prof. Jawahirullah, the leader of the MMK who lost the election from Ramnad constituency.
In the tiny 30-member Assembly of the Union Territory Puducherry, only a single Muslim M OHF Shahjahan has been elected from Kalapet constituency. He is son of former Chief Minister (for three terms) M. O. H. Farook who was also a union minister for some time and Governor of two states.