Population 14%, stake zero; Where do Muslims stand in India’s decision making?

PM at BJP’s 2-day National Executive meeting in New Delhi Narendra Modi is in headlines. In the meeting, the PM told the BJP workers, ‘Whether someone votes or not, we have to take everyone along.’ The Prime Minister said in the executive meeting that we have to take the policies of the government to the Bohras, Pasmandas and educated Muslims as well. 

This speech of PM Modi is being discussed a lot. Political analysts are seeing this as a changed strategy of the BJP and the Sangh. According to the 2011 census, there are about 14.3 percent Muslims in India. On the other hand, according to NSSO’s data, 49 percent of the total number are backward Muslims. 

Means the Muslim population in India is about one-sixth of the total population. Among the minorities, the largest population is of Muslims. In such a situation, the question now arises that where are the Muslims in the decision making of India. This is what we have explored in this story. 

No Muslim on top-7 posts from 2021 
There are a total of 7 big posts in India including executive, judiciary and legislature. These include the President, the Vice President, the Chief Justice of India, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Lok Sabha, the Chief Election Commissioner and the Leader of the Opposition (Rajya Sabha).

Many of these posts are such that no Muslim has been there for years. In 2021, Ghulam Nabi Azad retired from the post of Leader of Opposition in Rajya Sabha. Since then there is not a single Muslim on the top 7 posts. 

There is not a single Muslim judge in the Supreme Court
There are currently 27 judges in the Supreme Court of India, while 8 posts are vacant. There is not a single Muslim judge in these 27 judges. However, there has been a long-standing controversy regarding the appointment of judges in the Supreme Court. The government has been blaming the collegium for not having diversity in the appointment of judges. 

The permanent Chief Justice is not a Muslim in any High Court of the country. The Acting Chief Justice of Jammu-Kashmir and Himachal must be a Muslim. 

There is no Muslim participation even in the heads of the states
At present, 28 states and 2 union territories have elected chief ministers in the country. Assembly is dissolved in Jammu and Kashmir, where there is no word of election yet.

Out of the 30 Chief Ministers of the country, not a single Chief Minister is a Muslim. There is definitely a Buddhist chief minister in Sikkim and a Sikh chief minister in Punjab. The remaining 28 states have Hindu chief ministers. However, the Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu describes himself as an atheist, that is, does not believe in any religion.

Zero stake in the central cabinet too
At present there is not a single Muslim minister in the central cabinet. Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi was again made minority welfare minister in 2019, but was dropped in the 2021 extension. 

The command of the minority ministry is still with Smriti Irani. There are 43 officers on a large scale in the Ministry of Minorities working for minorities. According to the information given on the ministry’s site, only 2 officials in the Ministry of Minority Welfare are Muslims. 

Mention of political justice in the preamble of the constitution
Political justice is also mentioned in the preamble of the constitution of India. Political justice means that all the citizens of the country should get equal civil and political rights. Political rights consist of contesting and voting in elections.

Why what, 3 points…

1. Delimitation of seats is a big reason – Asad Malik, Professor of the Department of Law at Jamia Millia Islamia University, says – Chief Minister or Prime Minister cannot become a Muslim, the main reason for this is the majority and minority population. Due to delimitation, Muslim candidates are not able to win many seats, due to which Muslim leaders become weak in MLA or parliamentary party meetings. 

Malik further explains- Muslims have been becoming Chief Ministers in Jammu and Kashmir, because there is more Muslim population. However, elections have not been held there since 2019. 

2. There is no fixed rule or law- According to Asad Malik, according to a tradition in the earlier government, Muslim leaders used to get the President or Vice President or any major post, due to which they had participation in major decisions. However, there is no fixed law or rule regarding this. 

In the constitution meeting, like SC-ST, there was a demand to reserve some seats in the Lok Sabha for Muslim leaders, but this did not happen. 

3. Rise of BJP- After 2014, the BJP continued to grow stronger. Due to the BJP wave, many veteran Muslim leaders lost the elections. Among them, the names of Abdul Bari Siddiqui from Bihar, Azam Khan from UP, Salman Khurshid and Ghulam Nabi Azad from Jammu and Kashmir are prominent. 

After the defeat in the elections, gradually these leaders became ineffective even within the party. In the Lok Sabha elections 2019, out of 403 seats, BJP had given tickets to Muslims only in 5 seats, out of which 3 were from Jammu and Kashmir.

How many hopes, what effect?
In 2008, a 4-member committee headed by Amitabh Kundu submitted a report to the Ministry of Minority Welfare. This is known from the report of the Kundu Committee. The committee insisted on a Diversity Commission for the development of Muslims in the country. 

The committee had said that from education to parliamentary participation, Muslims are backward, to change which radical changes are needed everywhere. Big changes are possible only when Muslims will come in decision making. 

What can be the effect of not having a Muslim in the decision making? In response to this question, Asad Malik says, ‘Muslims will not be able to raise their important issues on a big platform and when the issue does not arise, how can it be resolved’

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