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Fewer MPs, but minorities don't mind

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By CITHARA PAUL in Delhi
  • Published 24.05.09
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BIG LOSERS

New Delhi, May 24: Muslim voters may have played a crucial role in influencing the outcome of Election 2009 but the number of MPs from the community has come down to 29 from 36 in the earlier House.

Some states — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Orissa — have not elected a single Muslim MP though the community accounts for a sizeable chunk of their population.

The community, however, does not seem perturbed. “The Muslim community may be under-represented. But it is a relief that politicians with criminal background like Mohammed Shahabuddin, Akhtar Ansari and Taslimuddin are out of the House. Clearly, Muslims largely voted for better candidates than Muslim contestants,” said Hakim Ubaudulla of the Milli Council, adding that it showed the community was “coming of age” as voters.

Jalaudden Umri of the Muslim Political Forum echoed similar feelings. “We don’t mind it as the priority was to vote for suitable candidates irrespective of caste or religion,” he said.

The highest number of Muslim MPs elected to the House so far is 48. That was in 1980, but the figure dipped to 41 in 1984. The 1999 elections saw a further dip — 32 — though the number increased in the 2004 polls.

Although the 15th Lok Sabha has just 29 MPs from the community, a promising trend is the number of Muslim women MPs. Among the 59 women Lok Sabha members in the new House, there are three Muslims — the third time the Lok Sabha will have three Muslim women since the first Lok Sabha in 1952.

The newly elected members are Mausam Noor, Tabassum Begum and Kaisar Jahan.

Among the big losers from the community are former Union minister for minority affairs A.R. Antulay (Congress), Mohammad Salim (CPM), Abu Asim Azmi (Samajwadi Party), Mukhtar Abbas Naqvi (BJP) and Akbar Ahmed Dumpy (BSP).

Among the prominent Muslims elected to the Lok Sabha this year are senior Congress leader Salman Khursheed, former Jammu and Kashmir chief minister Farooq Abdullah, former cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin, MIM chief Assaduddin Owaisi and former minister of state for external affairs E. Ahamed.

The list also includes Trinamul candidate Kabir Suman, who won from Jadavpur in Calcutta.

The Lok Sabha’s youngest member also belongs to the community. P.M. Hamdullah Sayeed, who won from Lakshadweep as a Congress nominee, is 26.