The battle for the Muslim vote has now been joined by the BJP, led by Narendra Modi. However, as figures across the country show, the community finds little representation in power, irrespective of which party is ruling.
Of the 28 states in the country, 13 have no Muslim ministers. That includes all the four states ruled by the BJP, where the party has no Muslim MLA either.
Just 57 of the total 609 ministers across various states, or 9.35 per cent, are Muslim. As per the 2001 Census, Muslims make up 13.43 per cent of the population. Muslim-majority Jammu and Kashmir accounts for as many 18 of those 57 ministers. If J&K is taken out, the entire country has all of 39 Muslim ministers.
The BJP-ruled states, be it Gujarat (with 9.06 per cent of its population Muslim), Chhattisgarh (1.97 per cent), Goa (6.84 per cent), or Madhya Pradesh (6.37 per cent), have no Muslim minister or MLA belonging to the party. Punjab, ruled by the Akali Dal-BJP combine, also does not have a Muslim minister, although the Akali Dal’s Malerkotla MLA is Muslim.
Congress-ruled states do not fare any better. In Uttarakhand, which has a sizeable Muslim population — 11.92 per cent — the Congress has Muslim MLAs but none of them is a minister.
Congress-ruled Himachal Pradesh again has no Muslim minister, though their population here is only 2 per cent.
The party’s government in Haryana, where Muslims make up a good 5.78 per cent of the population, has only one Muslim minister. A more striking example is that of Andhra Pradesh, where 10 per cent of the population is Muslim and which had a long history of Muslim rule. Only one of its 37 Congress ministers is Muslim.
In Congress-ruled Assam where Bangladeshi infiltration is a hot political issue, only three of the 19 ministers are Muslim. Assam has the highest percentage of Muslims in the country after J&K, at 30.9 per cent of the population. Congress-ruled Delhi has one Muslim in the seven-member Cabinet.