Mumbai

No Muslim minister in Maharashtra government for the first time

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The Winter Session of the Maharashtra Assembly kicked off on Monday but not without earning the BJP-Sena government the distinction of being the first ever government in the State to not have a Muslim minister. Muslims comprise 10-12 per cent of the State population.

 

Even during the last saffron coalition government in the State in 1995, when there was a Sena Chief Minister, there was one Muslim minister. Sena leader Sabir Shaikh held the labour portfolio in the Shiv-BJP government. He was also assigned the portfolio of the AUKAF, the Waqf property development.  In the current government, the minority development portfolio is held by the BJP’s Eknath Khadse, a Leuva Patil, who also holds various other portfolios including Revenue.

 

With the induction of the Sena, the Devendra Fadnavis’s cabinet has expanded to 29 ministers, including 17 cabinet ministers. Though various communities have been represented, not a single Muslim finds his way into the Ministry. Though it could be attributed to the negligible number of Muslim candidates fielded by the Sena and BJP—the sole BJP candidate lost -- the representation of Muslims in Maharashtra Assembly has been on a decline over the years.

 

However, if the Chief Minister desires to have a Muslim representative in his ministry there is no constitutional bar on even a non-elected member being made a minister. As per the law a non-elected minister needs to be elected as a member of either assembly or council. This was what happened when Prithviraj Chavan took over as the CM of Maharashtra.

 

>A recent report by The Hindu pointed out how Muslim representation in the Lok Sabha and State Assemblies had fallen to an all-time low and in this regard BJP-ruled States fared the worst. While in 1999, there were 12 Muslim MLAs, the figure has been constantly falling, to 11 in 2004, 10 in 2009 and nine in the 2014 election. Out of these nine, five belong to the Congress, the NCP and the SP have one each, while the AIMIM secured two. 

 Even in Parliament, Muslims from Maharashtra find little representation. The State currently has only two Rajya Sabha MPs, Majeed Memon (NCP) and Hussain Dalwai (Congress), while the last Muslim Lok Sabha MP was former CM Adbul Rehman Antullay (2004), who passed away recently. While this has been bothering the Muslim civil society, Mr. Memon says not having a Muslim minster was not a cause of concern “as long as all the ministers and the CM work together and are found to be addressing the concerns of the minority.” It is not necessary to be a Muslim to take care of the minority, he said.

 

The AIMIM’s Waris Yusuf Pathan, who caused a major upset to win the Byculla seat in Mumbai, too, is not dismayed. He hoped that the Muslim representatives would be given opportunity to “raise their views” in the Assembly. He said his focus would be on raising issues related to the Wakq property, atrocities against minorities, custodial deaths and the expediting of trials.

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Printable version | Jan 28, 2020 9:06:16 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/mumbai/no-muslim-minister-in-maharashtra-government-for-the-first-time/article6673416.ece

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