India in the era of Modi: The number of Muslims in the Indian Parliament declines annually as their power grows

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The political power of India’s 200 million Muslims has been declining in the world’s largest democracy. With Modi seemingly on the verge of winning a third five-year term, the outlook for Muslim politicians who are citizens of this country is bleak.

Tensions between Hindus and Muslims in India are not new, but they have worsened under Prime Minister Narendra Modi, whose ruling Bharatiya Janata Party espouses a Hindu nationalist ideology. Since that party began to rise as a political force in the mid-1980s, the proportion of Muslim lawmakers in parliament and assemblies has shrunk. Legislative states.

When Modi took power in 2014, the outgoing Parliament had 30 Muslim MPs, including one BJP member. Muslims now hold 25 of the 543 seats, none of whom belong to the BJP, which denies discrimination against Muslims.

Muhammad Abdul Salam is the only Muslim among about 430 candidates from the Bharatiya Janata Party, who is running in the parliamentary elections this year, and if he wins, he will become the first Muslim member of the party since 2014, in the lower house of the Indian Parliament.

“The BJP allows everyone to be accommodated, the entire people, not just Hindus,” said Salam, who is from the Muslim-majority southern city of Malappuram.

Today, Muslims constitute 14% of the population and control about 4.6% of Parliament, while Hindus represent nine out of 10 members of Parliament, and they constitute 80% of India’s population of 1.4 billion people.

He was discriminated against

A government report in 2006 found that Muslims lag behind Hindus, Christians and people of lower castes in India in literacy, income and access to education, and they have made some gains since then, but they remain at a significant disadvantage, according to multiple independent studies. .

“Muslims in India are facing this gradual shift from marginalization to exclusion,” says Ali Khan Mahmoodabad, a political scientist and historian at Ashoka University in New Delhi. “I don’t think any democracy that disenfranchises a particular political or social group or community remains stable.”

Banning Muslim immigrants from citizenship, revoking Muslim-majority Kashmir’s semi-autonomy, and building a Hindu temple where violent mobs demolished a mosque have represented political victories for Modi over the past decade, cementing his reputation as a leader who prioritizes the interests of India’s Hindu majority.

Under Modi’s decade in power, the BJP has enacted or proposed various laws that Muslim leaders consider discriminatory, including restrictions on interfaith marriage in some states.

Violence is common

Muslims have been lynched by Hindu mobs, allegedly for eating beef or smuggling cows, an animal considered sacred by Hindus, their homes have been bulldozed, their businesses damaged, and their places of worship set on fire.

At recent election rallies, Modi said that Muslims were “infiltrators” and that they were “bringing too many children.” Without evidence, he accused the Congress Party, the BJP’s main rival, of planning to redistribute Hindu wealth to Muslims. “The Muslim voter is being used as an excuse,” Mahmoudabadi said. Now as a threat to India, and to boost the BJP’s votes.” Many Muslims believe Modi is stoking divisions as an election campaign strategy.

Muslim voter Mahmood Bhai Khatri: “Who will speak here? If someone spoke out, the next day he would be in prison or arrested at home or a bulldozer would be sent. So no one will speak out of fear.”

With the Bharatiya Janata Party more powerful than ever, India’s opposition parties have become increasingly reluctant to nominate Muslim candidates, for fear of alienating Hindu voters, experts say.

But when political parties don’t nominate enough Muslims, issues important to them, from minority rights to hate speech, are rarely discussed in Parliament, says Mohammed Saad, a Muslim taxi driver in New Delhi. “If anyone (Muslim) is elected to Parliament, at least I will have that hope and faith that they will raise our voice there.”

Experts say that while Hindus rally overwhelmingly around the Bharatiya Janata Party, Muslims struggle to form a coherent political agenda.