Major parties hesitant to field Muslims in Rajasthan

Major parties hesitant to field Muslims in Rajasthan

Ayub Khan, ex-MP from Jhunjhunu

Only one Muslim candidate has made it to the Lok Sabha from Rajasthan ever since the first general election took place in 1952. 

Ayub Khan was the only Muslim candidate who was elected twice to the Lok Sabha from the state from the Jhunjhunu parliamentary seat in 1984 and 1991 on the Congress ticket. In the past 16 Lok Sabha elections, a total number of 14 candidates have contested from the desert state, which constitutes around 10 % population as per Census 2011. While Congress gave a ticket to 13 candidates in last 16th Lok Sabha polls. The BJP has so far fielded one Muslim candidate Mehboob Ali from the Bikaner parliamentary seat in 1979 who lost eventually.

Khan, who served as the minister of state for agriculture in the P V Narasimha Rao government, had contested four times from the same constituency. Before entering into politics, Khan served in a mid-level rank in cavalry and armoured units of the Indian Army. He, in the 1965 war, destroyed four Pakistani tanks and captured one in the Sialkot sector, and was honoured with the gallantry award. Khan died at the age of 84 in his village of Nuah in Jhunjhunu district on September 15, 2016.

Community feels disillusioned

While the largest parties have not given significant attention to Muslim leaders in Lok Sabha polls, interestingly around 10-12 seats have sizable Muslim voters. The community feels disillusioned and left out as there is no one to raise their issues in the Lok Sabha.

Experts say the candidates from the minority community are repeatedly changed. "Muslims have a significant presence in Mewat and Shekhawati region and even in Kota. Even after constituting around 10 percent population, more than 4 seats should have been given to the Muslim leaders," says Prof M Hasan, former faculty at Rajasthan State Institute of Public Administrator and Human Right Activist. He adds that the Congress party is hesitant to give more than one ticket to Muslims because of internal differences in the party.

In 2019, Congress has fielded Rafique Mandelia from Churu. In 2009 Lok Sabha election Mandelia lost from Churu and recently was again defeated Assembly constituency in the 2018 election from Churu. His father, Maqbool Madelia, was a stalwart in Churu, who won the 2008 Assembly election.

The state will go to polls in two phases April 29 and May 6. In 2014 BJP swept all 25 Lok Sabha seats but later in 2018 bypolls, it lost two seats to Congress.