By Shamsher Alam,
Madhya Pradesh is going to poll on 28 November 2018. This political temperature of the same is rising. Parties have declared their candidates for upcoming election. There are two major parties in Madhya Pradesh politics, Bhartiya Janta Party and Congress party. However, Bahujan Samaj Party and Samajwadi Party are also contesting the election in the same. Here, it is an attempt to analyze the inclusionary nature of the various political parties as far the nomination of Muslims candidates in the assembly election is concerned.
After examining the candidates and the inclusionary practices of the various parties in the state, it appears that they are not following the accommodative parameter for inclusion of the politically marginalized community, Muslim. As far as the BSP and SP are concerned they have not given ticket to any Muslim candidate. Albeit, these political parties not are fighting on all 230 assembly seats. Furthermore, when we analyze the inclusionary practice of BJP as far as the Muslim candidates for legislative election is concerned. Then, it is evident that no single candidate has filled his/her nomination from BJP. This ceases the opportunity to discuss the inclusion of Muslims in the same. Hence, it is against their very basic principle of Sabka Sath. Furthermore, when we reflect the Congress’s inclusionary nature then, it is also apparent that they also have not acknowledge and accommodated the Muslims candidates. They have filled total 2 candidates out of 155 as reported by carvandaily.com (5 Nov, 2018). This corresponds to 1.29 percentage of total seats. However, when talk about the population of Muslims, they constitute 6.57 percent of total population of the state. There are 230 total seats in the assembly. If we covert into the percentage then this corresponds to the 15.11 or nearly 15 seats for Muslims candidates. However, Muslim community ‘maintains, the party (Congress) could have placed Muslims on at least 20 seats including Satna, Bhatoni, Jabalpur (Cantt. And Pashchim), Satna, Bhatoni, Khandwa, Ratlam, Ujjain, Khandwa simply based on the community’s good population in these pockets’ (ibid).
At this juncture, there is need to raise some questions. Why so-called secular Congress Party has not given the ticket to Muslims candidates according to the proportionate population of the state. Is party heading towards the soft Hindutva ideology, wherein, the party tries to woo and target the Hindu vote by ignoring Muslims? Are they (Muslims) being taken for granted by Congress? Are they considering that Muslims will not go anywhere and they would just vote for them? Why Congress party is maintaining aloof from Muslims? Are they afraid of their Hindu vote bank? Or afraid of BJP’s accusation as Congress is the party of Muslims. Is the winnability only criteria for fighting the election? These are some questions which needed to answered by parties, who are self-proclaimed holder of the secular principle. However, the accusation by BJP as Congress is the Muslim’s party seems to be wrong as they (Congress) have not given the ticket to Muslims, according to the percentage of the population. When they will not adequately be given the ticket to contest the election, then forget about the satisfactory representation of Muslims in the legislative assembly.
However, at this juncture, it is worth mentioning the socio-political assertion and consciousness of Muslims not only in MP but across India, which is implicitly responsible for the political representation of the same in political sphere. To reflect on this, it can be argued that Muslims are more assertive when there is attack on their cultural and religious aspects. For example, when a chief of Hindu outfit in Uttar Pradesh attacks on the prophet Mohammad by calling him as the ‘first homosexual’. Then, there was the large-scale protest and demonstration across the country. Similarly, when a TV anchor made an odious comment against Fatima, there was also an outrage against the same. Therefore, on the basis of nature of assertion, it can be argued that Muslims are more assertive, when it come to their cultural and religious dimensions. However, the recent phenomenon is showing the different picture as far as the political assertion of Muslims is concerned. In the month of October, they have launched the #EqualCitizens- “Vote Hamara Baat Hamari” campaign to draw the attention of the opposition political parties and to highlight the plights of Muslims across the country. Hence, it can be argued that they are coming forward not only for the attack on their cultural and religious aspects but for their political and other social marginalization. Vehemently, there is need to expand their contour in the context of socio-political assertion, political consciousness and socio-political understanding. These assertion and consciousness would make them politically more powerful.
To sum up, Muslims are at the margins as far the representation in the electoral democracy is concerned. There is only one outgoing law maker from the state, MP. They are politically marginalized community (only 24 MP in Lok Sabha) at national level. The filled nomination of Muslims candidates in the legislative assembly of the aforementioned state is also not inclusionary enough. Therefore, it can be argued that there is need to strengthen the democracy by making more representative. The political marginalization of Muslims must be acknowledged and need to debate across the political lines. The representation of Muslims in the electoral democracy would lead to the beautiful, healthy and representative democracy. Since we are the largest democracy and one of most heterogenous country in the world, this subtly argue and adhere for the adequate and proportionate representation of each and every section of the society.
The author is a Ph D Scholar, at Center for the Study of Social Systems, JNU.