It is only the Congress which has maintained a track record of giving at least one ticket to a Muslim candidate in most Lok Sabha elections

The Muslim community’s representation in Lok Sabha from Rajasthan has been negligible since the first general election held in 1952.

Among the 317 MPs elected from the desert State in the past 15 Lok Sabha elections, only one Muslim was elected twice, first in 1984 and subsequently in 1991.

Even as Congress president Sonia Gandhi’s recent meeting with Jama Masjid’s Imam Bukhari in Delhi created a storm, political observers here point out that the community’s representation from Rajasthan is perhaps the minimum among the States where its population is above five per cent. Muslim population in Rajasthan is 11.4 per cent.

Lone victor

Only Capt. Ayub Khan has won the Lok Sabha elections from Jhunjhunu in 1984 and 1991 on the Congress ticket.

Interestingly, it is only the Congress which has maintained a track record of giving at least one ticket to a Muslim candidate in most of the Lok Sabha elections.

There are 18 seats in the State where no party has deemed it appropriate to field a Muslim candidate. Till 1980s, Congress had preferred to give ticket to a Muslim from Marwar region in western Rajasthan. The party later fielded candidates from Churu, Jhunjhunu, Bharatpur, Jhalawar, Ajmer and Churu.

However, Muslim candidates lost by a big margin even in the Muslim-dominated constituencies in most of the elections. Sikar-based political analyst Ashfaq Kayamkhani points out that Congress, either by overlooking or by design, always fielded Muslims from the seats where there was a negligible scope for their victory.

Citing the nomination of cricketer Mohammed Azharuddin from Tonk-Sawai Madhopur for the coming polls, Mr. Kayamkhani said the Muslim community had opposed an outsider being fielded after the rejection of claims of ticket seekers from minority-dominated districts, such as Churu, Jailsalmer and Jhunjhunu. “Despite a sizable number of Muslim voters, it is doubtful if Mr. Azharuddin will win,” he said.

Decisive position

There are as many as 11 Lok Sabha constituencies in the State where the Muslim electorate is in a decisive position. These seats include Barmer, which has 17.72 per cent Muslim population, but no Muslim candidate has ever been fielded from there by any major political party.

Against the Congress’ record of having fielded eight Muslim candidates 12 times, the Bharatiya Janata Party has not nominated even a single Muslim contestant in the State since its formation.

The poor representation of the community in the polls is also a reflection of the lack of leadership that has resulted in its crucial issues remaining unresolved.