Indian Muslims, In the 73rd Year of Independence: Part II; Their Condition Deteriorated With the Rise of BJP In Indian Politics
This report is based on a lecture by Christophe Jaffrelot, a French Political Scientist specializing in South Asia especially, India and Pakistan. This article breaks the myth that Congress has pampered Indian Muslims. He also responds to the question that what kind of difference, the rise of BJP made to the Muslims in India?
What difference the Rise of BJP made to Indian Muslims, in Socio-Economical terms?
Although Jaffrelot felt that there are many issues. However, he chose to deal with two questions: Marginalisation of Muslims in Parliament and Assemblies and Discrimination of Muslims by the police in different states.
The 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 per cent of the society, 49 MPs were elected that is 9 per cent of total Lok Sabha seats. It has been reduced to its lowest in 2014 when BJP won majority seats and form the government. Only 21 Muslim MPs, i.e. below 4 per cent of the total Lok Sabha seats, because, the BJP did not have a single MP.
It is for 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 25 seats, a marginal increase from 21 to 25 but remain below 5 per cent of total Lok Sabha seats.
What is true at the Lok Sabha level is equally true to the state assemblies
Gujarat with 9.1 % Muslim population has only 1.6 per cent of the Muslim MLAs. It used to be 6 per cent in the early 80s.
There are only 3.1 per cent Muslim MLAs in Karnataka with 12.2 per cent Muslim population, in the late 70s they were more than 7 per cent.
Madhya Pradesh, with 6.4 per cent of Muslim Population has only 0.4 per cent of Muslims in the Assembly. Christophe Jaffrelot said, in fact, only one MLA is Muslim. In the early 1970s, it used to be 2.7 per cent.
Maharashtra, the Muslim population is more than 10% but only 3.1 per cent of MLAs are Muslims. They used to be 9 per cent in the mid-80s.
Odisha with only 2 per cent of Muslim population is having 0.7 per cent of Muslim MLAs. It was 2.7 per cent in the mid-80s.
Rajasthan is having only 1 per cent of Muslim MLAs now against 5 per cent in the early 80s.
UP is the most interesting case. He said, “Before 2017, till the BJP won, 16.9 per cent MLAs were Muslims with 18.5 per cent Muslim population.” In 2017, the Muslim MLAs declined to 5.7 per cent.
The only exception to this trend is the West Bengal. “It is atypical, it’s increasing," Christophe Jaffrelot said. With 25.2% Muslim Population, Muslim MLAs are 20 per cent. In 1985, only 2.9 per cent MLAs were Muslims.
This is the most obvious impact of the rise of BJP is the declining Muslim representations in Lok Sabha and State Assemblies.
Discrimination of Muslims by the police in different states
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 in fake terrorism charges. There are cases when young Muslims who have been jailed and spent years in jail for this reason."
Christophe Jaffrelot quoted last National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report released in 2015 that stated 21 per cent of inmates in jail are Muslims, an over-representation in terms of their share of 14.5 per cent 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 per cent from 21 per cent, directly proportionate to their population in India.
It means that, indeed, many Muslims have gone to jail because the police suspected wrongly and implicated them in some crime. When the judiciary looked at the files, they were made free.
Christophe Jaffrelot 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.
He said, that the data, I have used, suggest, “The fact is 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.”