Muslim Representation in Indian Politics Since 1947.

Byline: Nisar A. Malik and Abdul Majid


Indian Muslims constitute the second largest religious group after the Hindus with the status of the largest minority amongst the minorities dwelling in Indian Union. They, however, are scattered across the country having majority only in Jammu andKashmir and a Union Territory of Lakshadweep 78% and 96% respectively. It would be instructive to note here that prior to partition of India, Muslims constituted almost 24% of total Indian population. Of course, the creation of Pakistan separating the Muslim majority areas from India, the proportion of Muslim population decreased. Now, in accordance with the 2011 census report, the Muslims constituted nearly 14.1% officially, however certain unofficial sources maintain that the figures shown in 2011 census were not correct. They believe that the Muslims population was almost 20 to 25% of total Indian population.

Despite, the Muslim political representation in Indian political institutions the Upper as well as the Lower Houses (Lok Sabah and Rajyia Sabah) and State Assemblies is very low as compared to their population proportion. This study is an attempt to highlight the Muslim political deprivation in Indian decision making bodies and problems they are facing in Indian political process under five subheadings.

  1. Muslim Politics in India _pre-partition

  2. Muslims in Indian political process _post partition

  3. Muslims' expectations with the Congress

  4. Indian Muslims under Hindutva Politics

  5. Political Deprivation of the Indian Muslims since 1947

Muslim Politics-----Pre-Partition

Following the failure of the war of independence 1857, a constitutional movement had initiated by the British Indian government introducing Council's Act 1961.Therfore, limited political activities were allowed to the natives. In this regard Mr A.O Hume a retired bureaucrat, after hectic task formed the Indian National Congress (INC) in 1885, in order to take local (Hindu and Muslim) political leadership in confidence. But Sir Sayyid Ahmed Khan, a Muslim reformist advised the Muslims not to join the Congress, thinking that time was not ripe for them to take part in politics as British rulers had annoyed against the Muslims holding them sole responsible for mutiny of 1857(Mirza, 1997, 25).

As the Muslim rule in India witnessed a state of decline that coupled with a crisis of leadership. During the period of decline, it seems that the Muslim mothers had ceased to born babies with the quality of leadership with some exemptions. Particularly, while the British were ruling, the Muslims were completely a mob without any leader. On the contrary, the Hindu community was, however, enjoying with sane and capable leadership getting developed politically in the same period. The Hindu leaders like Raja Ram Mohan Roy founder of Brahamo Samaj (1828), Sawami Dayanand Sraswati the founder of Arya Samaj (1875), Keshab Chandersen the founding father of Prathana Samaj (1867) and Dr. Keshave Baliram Hedgewer the founder of Rashtriya Swayam Sevak Sangh (1925) rife with the sense of Hindu Nationalism (Mallick,chapter,1). However, ironically in Muslim fold not a single person was there with such stature except Sir Sayed Ahmad Khan (1817_1898).

In the mid of nineteenth century Sir Sayed came forward in this age of darkness taking the responsibility to lead the Muslims of Subcontinent politically as well as educationally (Mirza,1997,31). This was the time the Muslims were under the British oppression considering them the rebels and responsible of mutiny of 1857 (Riaz, 1982, 30). Therefore, Sir Sayed devised a strategy of reconciliation with the British and uplift of the Muslims in the fields of politics and education so as to they could be able to stand their own feet and face hardships.In this regard Sir Sayed strived hard to bridge the gap between the rulers and the Muslims, convincing both the sides for co-existence.

Sir Sayed's services, he rendered for political uplift of the Muslims of Subcontinent never be forgotten. He led the Muslim community dexterously whether it be the issue of Urdu-Hindi (1867) or the establishment of the I.N.C (1885). When he was appointed as the member of the Imperial Legislative Council he strived his best to save the political interests of the Muslims. While addressing the annual session of Muhammadan Educational Conference at Lucknow he demanded separate electorate for the Muslims and prior to that at the time of Urdu-Hindi conflict he also expressed his views maintaining that it seems both the nations (Hindus and Muslims) would never join wholeheartedly in anything (Mirza, 1997, 32).Therefore he was rightly entitled as the founding father of Two Nation Theory.

After the death of Sir Sayed (1898), the Muslims were forced to take part in Indian politics under certain political measures taken by the British Indian Government. i.e the division of Bengal(1905)and the Hindus' reaction against it.In the same year the British govt demonstrated its resolve to have certain political reforms to make the political system even more affective and beneficial to the people of India. In these circumstances the Muslims had decided to shun their political inactiveness as Hasan Riaz rightly portrayed the Muslims' political situation in these words,

Therefore, the Muslim leaders decided to meet the Viceroy to safeguard Muslim political interests. In this regard the Muslims constituted a delegation in 1905 under the leadership of Sir Agha Khan. The Muslim delegation met with Lord Minto at Simla with their demands, the principal of them was the separate electorate for Muslims. As for as Viceroy's reply is concerned, responding affirmatively, encouraged the delegation to have their own political party and such demands ought to be presented through its platform.(Riaz,1987,52-53)

The success of Simla Deputation encouraged the Muslims to frame their own political party, hence, All India Muslim League came into being in 1906.Both the events proved to be a turning point towards the Muslim politics in India.(Qureshi,1987,29-30)In upcoming years the All India Muslim League became the sole political representative party of Muslims. From the very inception of its establishment it succeeded to have acceptance of separate electorate from the British government in 1909 and then from the Congress in 1916 under Lucknow Pact.It can be said, that upcoming years witnessed the separate electorate provided the basis of Two Nation Theory the very foundations to create Pakistan in 1947.(Riaz,1987,56)

Lucknow Pact and Khilafat Movement caused to bring close the Hindus and the Muslims however, following the end of Khilafat Movement, cleavage of distrust between both the communities emerged once again. Thus, the communal riots erupted in different areas claiming innocent lives.(Riaz,1987,150-151) Henceforth, the Hindus and the Muslims split their political paths for ever emerging a situation of action and re-action. As one political party presented a formula to settle the political differences the other rejected it forthwith. In this regard,Nehru Report 1928, Jinnah's Fourteen Points 1929 were the principal precedents. Other political incidents of great significance were Alama Iqbal's(a great philosopher and poet) annual address to the Muslim League at Allahabad in 1930 with outlines of a separate homeland for the Muslims of Subcontinent, the Round Tables Conferences held in London(1930-1932)with no solution of India's political problems.(Qureshi,1987,378-379)

It would be worthwhile to describe here that from the mid of nineteenth century to his death, Sir Syed with leadership qualities and dynamic personality,successfully led Muslim Community for almost 40 years. However, with the start of 20th century, the Muslim India witnessed another dynamic as well as energetic political personality of Muhammad Ali Jinnah. Mr Jinnah emerged on the Indian political scenario in 1906 joining the...

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