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Elections 2024: 24 Muslims Elected Even as Parties Fielded Less, Who Are They?

Some of the noted leaders who won this time are SP's Afzal Ansari, Iqra Choudhary and Zia ur Rahman Barq in UP.

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The 2024 Lok Sabha elections saw parties field lesser Muslim candidates. Overall representation of the community has reduced marginally from 26 in the 2019 Lok Sabha elections to 24 in 2024. It is still higher than the 23 figure of 2014.

Among the most prominent winners is 28-year-old Iqra Choudhary, coming from a political family, who reclaimed Kairana, a seat in Western Uttar Pradesh. She defeated BJP's Pradeep Kumar with a winning margin of over 69,000 votes.

Some of the noted leaders who won this time are SP's Afzal Ansari, Iqra Choudhary and Zia ur Rahman Barq in UP.

Iqra Choudhary during her campaign days in the election season.

(Photo: @Iqra_Munawwar_/X)

In 2019, 115 Muslims had contested as the representatives across various political parties, this time, however, the number dropped down to 78 with many parties being reluctant or shying away from fielding more Muslim candidates.

Another prominent winner is Ghazipur's SP candidate Afzal Ansari who won the seat with over 1.2 lakh votes.

While speaking to The Quint he said that there are some districts in UP and Bihar where there should be political participation by Muslims such as in Saharanpur, Bulandshahr, Moradabad, Amroha, Sambhal and Rampur. However, he busted the myth that a Muslim candidate should only be fielded in a 'Muslim-dominated' region.

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Ansari said, "In Ghazipur, there are only 10% Muslims and I was fielded here. Here, the demography is different and it's not a 'Muslim-dominated' place, there are around 22% Yadavs, most Bhumihars are present here, we cannot fight by limiting to religious and caste lines."
Some of the noted leaders who won this time are SP's Afzal Ansari, Iqra Choudhary and Zia ur Rahman Barq in UP.

Ghazipur DM Aryaka Akhoury hands over the certificate after Afzal Ansari won the seat.

(Photo: Accessed by The Quint)

Congress has the highest number of Muslim MPs at seven, followed by TMC at five, SP at four, Indian Union Muslim League at three, National Conference at two, two Independent candidates and Asaduddin Owaisi from AIMIM.

Even for Prime Minister Narendra Modi, for all his talk of ‘Pasmanda Muslims should get more opportunities,’ during last year and in this election season, the ruling BJP fielded only one Muslim candidate, Abdul Salam, from Malappuram in Kerala who also lost.

The Wins & Losses

Before we delve into the possible reasons  behind the decline, let’s look at the candidates fielded this time by parties and whether they won or lost.

NDA, in total fielded four Muslim candidates, among them were JD (U)'s candidate Mujahid Alam and Zabed Alam in Asom Gana Parishad, none of them won.

The Muslim candidates who won this time are as follows:

Congress:

  • Rakibul Hussain, Dhubri, Assam

  • Isha Khan Choudhary, Maldaha Dakshin, West Bengal

  • Shafi Parambil, Vadakara, Kerala

  • Tariq Anwar, Katihar, Bihar

  • Mohammad Jawed, Kishanganj, Bihar

  • Muhammed Hamdullah Sayeed, Lakshwadeep

  • Imran Masood, Saharanpur, Uttar Pradesh

Some of the noted leaders who won this time are SP's Afzal Ansari, Iqra Choudhary and Zia ur Rahman Barq in UP.

Isha Khan Choudhary defeated TMC's Shahnawaz in WB.

(Photo: X/Twitter)

Samajwadi Party (All UP)

  • Iqra Choudhary, Kairana

  • Mohibbullah, Rampur

  • Zia Ur Rehman, Sambhal

  • Afzal Ansari, Ghazipur

TMC (All West Bengal):

  • Khalilur Rahaman, Jangipur

  • Yusuf Pathan, Baharampur

  • Abu Taher Khan, Murshidabad

  • SK Nurul Islam, Basirhat

  • Sajda Ahmed, Uluberia

Some of the noted leaders who won this time are SP's Afzal Ansari, Iqra Choudhary and Zia ur Rahman Barq in UP.

TMC's Yusuf Pathan defeated Congress' Adhir Ranjan Chowdhary.

(Photo: PTI)

Indian Union Muslim League:

  • ET Mohammed Basheer, Malappuram, Kerala

  • Dr MP Abdussamad Samadani, Ponnani, Kerala

  • Navaskani K, Ramanathapuram, Tamil Nadu

Jammu and Kashmir National Conference:

  • Aga Syed Ruhullah Mehdi, Srinagar

  • Mian Altaf Ahmad, Anantnag-Rajouri

All India Majlis-E-Ittehadul Muslimeen (AIMIM):

Assaduddin Owaisi, Hyderabad

Independents:

  • Abdul Rashid Sheikh, Baramulla

  • Mohmad Haneefa, Ladakh

Some prominent Muslim candidates who lost were: Omar Abdullah (JKNC) in Baramulla, Danish Ali (Congress) in Amroha, Mansoor Ali Khan (Congress) in Bangalore Central, Syed Imtiyaz Jaleel (AIMIM) in Aurangabad.

While Congress' candidates were around 19, SP fielded four and TMC fielded six. The sixth TMC candidate, Shahnawaz Ali Raihan lost to Isha Khan Choudhary in Maldaha Dakshin.

The 'winnability' argument is often played up when talking about prospects of fielding Muslim candidates much like it was revealed in this story on Muslims being woefully underrepresented during the Madhya Pradesh elections last year.

Hilal Ahmed Assistant Professor, Centre for the Study of Developing Societies (CSDS) told The Quint:

"Our electoral politics has become more professional in the last one decade. Hence, winnability has become a reference point. Secondly, Hindutva has become the dominant narrative of politics. Non-BJP parties don't want to be seen as pro Muslims. That also plays a role in ticket distribution to Muslims."

'Muslims Can Also Fight From Non-Muslim Dominated Areas'

In the last Lok Sabha polls, as many as 26 Muslim candidates were elected as MPs; of them four were from TMC, three each from the Congress, BSP and SP, and one each of the NCP and CPI(M). Others belonged to the AIUDF of Assam, Lok Janshakti Paswan (now split into two factions), IUML and the J&K National Conference. Two from the AIMIM also got elected.

It is true that political parties consider the control and influence of a candidate and their background in a constituency before they field one. Here, the party's ideology also matters as well.

Ansari believes that a Muslim candidate's positioning should be secular as seeking votes on religious politics would be limiting and not get one far.

"If as a Muslim you ask votes on your identity, then it becomes complicated and limiting, because then who does it? Ansari, Qureshi, Pathan, Chaudhary, Shia or Sunni? Hence, I don't do politics like this, my ideology is that I want to be secular, the issues are faced by all the poor, whether Muslims, Dalits, OBCs and other lower caste groups," he remarked.

On the other hand, the BSP had fielded 35 Muslim candidates in 2024, the highest among all parties; of these, more than half (17) in Uttar Pradesh. However, the party has failed to win any seat.

Congress and their number of Muslim candidates has come down from 34 in 2019 to 19 this time.

The rise of independent Muslim candidates is also another pattern that has emerged. Like in Gujarat, where there were 32 Muslim candidates of the total 266 candidates in the fray and a majority of these are contesting independently.
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Likewise in Maharashtra, as per reports, there were 79 Muslim independent candidates in the electoral fray as compared to 55 in 2019.

However, Muslims are not a monolith. Ahmed added that there are three things that are needed to change this on a structural level:

  1. "Democratisation of the idea of representation meaning internal democracy and inclusive character of political parties are to be questioned.

  2. Grassroots-level coalition of all marginalised communities including Muslim Pasmandas.

  3. More active participation at the Panchayat and Municipality level politics."

How Political Representation of Muslims Changed Under Modi

Not long ago, Congress' Shashi Tharoor had said to ANI, "This is happening for the first time in this country that no Muslim is an MP in Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha. No Muslim is a minister in the cabinet. This is a wrong thing that the BJP has done. Our (Congress) government was the reflection of the whole nation."

Looking back at the past two general elections, in 2014, the BJP had fielded seven Muslim candidates out of a total of 482. But, all of them lost, including Shahnawaz Husain, who was a sitting MP at the time.

Cut to 2019, the saffron party had fielded six Muslim candidates – three in J&K, two in West Bengal and one in Lakshadweep – but again, none of them won.

When Modi assumed power in 2014, the outgoing parliament had 30 Muslim lawmakers — and just one was a member of the BJP. In the current parliament, Muslims hold 25 out of 543 seats but none belong to the BJP, meaning less than 5-6% of the seats in the Parliament.

Even at the state level, India has more than 4,000 lawmakers in state legislatures across 28 states and Muslim lawmakers hold roughly 6% of these seats.


Back in mid-1980s, Muslims accounted for 11% of India’s population, and had 9% of seats in parliament. In 1980, there were 49 Muslim MPs in the Lok Sabha. In 1984, there were 46 Muslim MPs.

Incidentally, we see that even though Muslims may not have been as visible as candidates this time, that does not mean they have been absent from headlines during the election season.

Some BJP leaders and even PM Modi tried to stoke fears by talking aboutb 'quota for Muslims, calling Muslims 'infiltrators,' and the much viral claim of 'Congress seeking to give a buffalo to a Muslim if a Hindu owned two.'

PM Modi even went a step further and asked people to choose between 'Ram Rajya' and 'Vote Jihad.'

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