The Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Muslim representation in Parliament and assemblies of states and Union Territories will come to a naught soon as the ruling party will not have a Muslim MP either in the Lok Sabha or the Rajya Sabha. At the same time, it does not have a single MLA in the 31 assemblies of the states and Union Territories.
While the BJP has a clear majority in the Lok Sabha and 17 states and Union territories, it has no Muslim representation whatsoever in the houses. At present, the party has only three MPs in the Rajya Sabha – M J Akbar (who was forced to resign in 2018 over sexual assault charges), Syed Zafar Alam and Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi – the latter two retiring in the first week of July.
Shahnawaz Hussain was BJP’s last Muslim MP in the Lok Sabha. Hussain had won the 2009 election from Bhagalpur in Bihar. The BJP came to power in 2014 and then again in 2019 with full majority, but Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s charm didn’t work in getting any Muslim candidate elected on the saffron party’s ticket.
It is not that the BJP hasn’t fielded Muslims. When Modi first contested the Lok Sabha polls in 2014, the party had given tickets to seven Muslims out of a total of 482. All of them lost though.
In 2019 too the party gave tickets to six Muslim candidates – three in Jammu and Kashmir, two in West Bengal and one in Lakshadweep. None of them could make it to Parliament.
The scenario in state legislative assemblies and UTs is no different. The party has no Muslim representative here. A few years back, the BJP had four Muslim legislators in assemblies – one each in Jammu and Kashmir and Assam and two in Rajasthan.
A media report cited two reasons why BJP’s Muslim faces fail to win. First, most of them are fielded from Muslim-dominated constituencies. Here the voters work to defeat the BJP candidate anyhow.
A former Union minister told a media house that the BJP has tried hard to reach out to the Muslims, but it has failed to get the required support. Hence, the party is now focusing on reaching out to other minority communities.
Besides, the BJP sees no electoral benefit in fielding Muslim candidates. Mainly because putting up a Muslim face antagonises Hindu voters, resulting in split of votes and helping the opposition candidates win.
Also, the BJP doesn’t show much enthusiasm in campaigning for its Muslim candidates, which reflects in the party’s poor show in Muslim-dominated seats.
The saffron party is unlikely to gain any support from the country’s biggest minority community in the run up to 2024 Lok Sabha polls as mandir-masjid controversies gather steam in several places in Uttar Pradesh.
A BJP spokeswoman’s recent comment on Prophet Mohammed has invited worldwide condemnation, dwindling chances of Muslims standing by PM Modi and his party’s slogan ‘Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas’.