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Muslim quota in cabinet berths: After failing to find a single ‘injustice’ to Muslims in 10 years of Modi govt, ‘Liberals’ find new excuse to whine

The debate over Muslim representation in the cabinet is emblematic of the broader ideological battles being fought in India’s political arena.

On Sunday, 9th June, Prime Minister Narendra Modi took oath for the third consecutive term and became the second ever Prime Minister to do so after India’s first PM Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Alongside him, cabinet ministers and ministers of state also took oaths at the hands of the President of India, Droupadi Murmu. PM Modi-led third cabinet has 72 ministers. Interestingly, there is not a single Muslim MP or cabinet minister in NDA in this term that irked Islamists, “intellectuals” and left-liberals alike.

Propagandist posing as a journalist, The Wire’s Arfa Khanum Sherwani said in a post on X, “293 MPs, 72 Ministers. Zero Muslims Zero. This is how the largest democracy of the world excludes its Muslims, by design.”.

Source: X

Funny thing is, less than two hours before this post, Arfa “tried” to figure out what could be the reason that forced Muslim Bollywood actor Shah Rukh Khan to attend the oath taking ceremony of PM Modi.

She was not the only one to assert that the Bharatiya Janata Party-led NDA government at the centre believes in excluding Muslim representation by design. Several others also accused the Modi government of “deliberate” exclusion. Congress supporter Dhivya Marunthiah posted, “293 MPs 72 Ministers ZERO Muslims Sums up NDA.”

Source: X

Rajdeep Sardesai, who is a Journalist and husband of Trinamool Congress’s journalist-turned-Rajya Sabha MP Sagarika Ghose, said in a post on X, “72 member council of ministers has wide representation from every caste, community, state, with 7 former CMs providing the weight and wealth of experience. Just one aspect missing: yet again not a single Muslim in the ministerial list . Not one. Truth is, Indian Muslims have been ‘invisibilised’ in the last decade politically. Surely, between regional allies, a dominant party and lateral entrants from bureaucracy, space could be found for representing 14% of the population.”

Source: X

Quoting Sardesai, journalist Sadanand Dhume said, “This is fair criticism. There are 200 million Muslims in India. That most of them don’t vote for the BJP does not absolve the government of the baseline responsibility to include Muslim representation in the cabinet.”

Source: X

Popular among left-liberals and anti-Modi social media users, X user Gabbar said, “No place for minorities in Modi Model”. He was quoting a graphic by Makhtoob Media, an Islamic propaganda news portal.

Source: X

In a post, Makhtoob Media said, “No Muslim, Christian, & Sikh MPs are among 293 elected MPs of the BJP-led NDA. Despite Muslims constituting over 200 million in India, Sikhs over 23 million, and Christians more than 22 million, the NDA has no representation from these communities among its 293 elected MPs.”

Source: X

Journalist Prabhat Shunglu said, “But that community is the biggest minority spread across different states in India. A population of nearly 20 crore goes unrepresented in Modi 3.0. cabinet. It’s surprising that being a miniscule minority in a state you claim you have been hounded out from you weigh in nasty majoritarian biases sitting in Delhi.” He was quoting journalist Adiya Raj Kaul who had quoted propagandist posing as RJ, Sayema, raising similar questions and informed her that NDA government has minority representation as there are two Sikhs, one Christian and one Buddhist Minister in the Council of Ministers.

Source: X

Author and propagandist Saba Naqvi said, “As they have done with Christian and Sikhs by inducting non elected people into cabinet, it would be good form for Modi regime to induct a Muslim, 14 per cent of India’s population. On TV last night both JD U and TDP spokies told me not to critique as this is not final cabinet. Even cosmetic civilities have some meaning when India engages with the world.”

Source: X

Propagandist and Islamist posing as RJ, Sayema, said, “Mockery of equal representation of all. No Muslim, Christian, Sikh MPs in NDA!” She was also quoting Maktoob Media’s post. Interestingly, she later accepted she committed a mistake as NDA government has ministers from minority community but asserted that it was shameful that a community that makes up 20 crores in population has no representation.

Source: X

X user Shoaib questioned where was Muslim representation in the government.

Source: X

AIMIM national spokesperson sarcastically wrote, “Sab ka sath sab ka vikas sab ka vishwas???” while quoting misleading report by The Print that suggested there were no Muslim, Christian or Sikh MPs in NDA.

Source: X

X user Zafar Saifi said, “Muslims are new “untouchables” in India” as there were no Muslims in Modi Govt 3.0.

Source: X

For those who are unaware, there are two Sikh, one Christian and two Buddhist ministers in the cabinet. These ministers are Hardeep Singh Puri, Ravneet Singh Bittu, George Kurien, Kiren Rijiju, and Ramdas Athavale.

For the past decade, PM Modi-led government has been under relentless scrutiny for various reasons, specifically by self-proclaimed left-liberals and Islamists. Despite the efforts by the government of India, these critics have struggled to pinpoint any concrete evidence that there has been systematic injustice or widespread discrimination against Muslims or any other minority community under the Modi government. The narrative of exclusion is now being pushed to set a narrative that Muslims are marginalised despite making up the largest population of the country after Hindus.

It is a fact that the Muslim representation in the cabinet is missing. However, the crux of the argument lies in whether it is by design as claimed by the likes of Arfa Khanum Sherwani or it is a result of the electorate dynamics and political landscape of the country. If we look at the historical data, it is evident that despite getting a large portion of the central government’s benefits, Muslims do not vote for the BJP government.

Take the example of a specific village in Rampur which has a 100% Muslim population. 2,322 voters cast votes at the polling booth and not a single vote went to BJP candidates even though the area got over 500 PM Awas Yojna Houses. Even if the BJP gives tickets to Muslim candidates, the votes go to other parties’ candidates, Muslim or not. The absence of Muslims in prominent cabinet positions is a reflection of the electoral outcomes and cannot be pinned on the ruling party as an orchestrated plan to exclude them.

BJP-led NDA government has always believed in “Sabka Saath Sabka Vikas” and PM Modi has ensured that the Muslim community gets its fair share in the central government schemes. The representation of Muslims in government jobs, especially in civil services has increased after PM Modi took charge. Just because there is no Muslim representation, that does not mean that they do not get benefits.

The BJP has historically had less support from Muslim voters compared to other communities. In a democratic country like India, electoral success determines political power and representation. The lower level of support translates to fewer Muslim MPs from the BJP, which in the current case is zero. Consequently, the pool from which ministers can be chosen includes fewer Muslim candidates as the allied parties of BJP also have a lower number of Muslim candidates and none managed to win elections.

Out of 78 Muslim candidates who contested Lok Sabha Elections, 24 Muslim MPs won Lok Sabha Elections from their respective seats out of which seven are from Congress, four from Samajwadi Party, six from TMC, three from IUML, two from National Conference, one from AIMIM and two independents. None of these are part of the NDA. If they are not part of the alliance that formed the government at the centre, how can there be a cabinet minister from the Muslim community?

Furthermore, it is essential to consider the regional dynamics as well. Take the example of Lakshadweep. NDA candidate Yusuf TP got only 201 votes and some Muslims went online and celebrated it. Lakshadweep is 98% Muslim-dominant UT. In such a place, despite NDA having a Muslim candidate, he managed to get only 201 votes. If Muslims were that concerned about their representation at the centre, they could have voted for the NDA candidate. But that was not the case. Notably, despite the fact that BJP or NDA never won election in Lakshwadweep, Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself went to the UT and promoted tourism there.

The ‘left-liberal’ outcry

The left-liberals outcry appears to be an attempt to spotlight a perceived injustice. However, it is essential to look deeply into the narrative to find out if it is a substantive issue or merely a politically motivated narrative. Accusations of systematic exclusion of Muslims have to be backed by concrete evidence of discriminatory policies and practices which was missing from the two terms of PM Modi’s leadership.

The left-liberals threw narratives like CAA was anti-Muslim which was not. For those who are unaware, the CAA or Citizenship Amendment Act was passed in 2019 to facilitate persecuted Hindus, Sikhs, Buddhists, Christians and Jains in neighbouring Islamic countries of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh to get fast-track Indian citizenship. It did not affect Muslims who seek Indian citizenship or Indian Muslims in any way. Above all, CAA only benefits those who entered India before 31st December 2014. Sadly, the false narrative against CAA caused India dearly and we saw the deadly anti-Hindu Delhi Riots of February 2020 as a result of the protests.

While the critics are focusing on religious representation in the cabinet, which is anyway not promised by the Constitution of India, there are more pressing issues that the Muslim community faces such as education, social integration and education. The government of India has always been committed to providing the best facilities to all citizens of India irrespective of their religion. Muslim-centric schemes were announced from time to time by the PM Modi-led government to help the Muslim community live a better life. Interestingly, it was PM Modi who gave the slogan of “Quran in one hand and laptop in other”.

Moving forward

We may say that representation is important in the parliament, but it should not be viewed as in isolation. The true test of the government’s inclusivity lies in its policies and their outcomes for all communities, including Muslims. The Modi government’s track record in various sectors, such as housing, healthcare, and economic empowerment, offers a more comprehensive picture of its approach to governance.

The debate over Muslim representation in the cabinet is emblematic of the broader ideological battles being fought in India’s political arena. As the country continues to evolve, it is crucial to ensure that discussions about inclusivity are grounded in facts and focused on genuine issues of concern, rather than being swayed by politically motivated narratives based on religious representation in the Houses.

Ayodhra Ram Mandir special coverage by OpIndia

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B.Sc. Multimedia, a journalist by profession.

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