The BJP candidate list for the Jharkhand election has raised eyebrows because the party didn’t field any Muslim, a record it continued to maintain for all assembly or parliamentary polls in the state since it was carved out of Bihar in 2000.
The party has fielded 71 candidates for the upcoming election but has not found any “suitable” candidate with “winning potential” from the community which accounts for 14% (37.30 lakh) of the state’s population.
“It is internal matter of the party. I am not sure but one reason might be Muslims might not have a ‘connect’ with the party or those associated with it may not have asked for a ticket,” said Mokhtar Ahmad, the general secretary of Anjuman Islamia, a Muslim organisation.
Shahid Akhtar, the state minority commission chairman, felt that it was the BJP’s responsibility to ensure Muslim representation in politics. “Numerous reports have pointed out backwardness of the community and its poor representation in assemblies and Parliament in proportion to their population. The BJP being a national party should take up the case.”
State BJP spokesperson Pradeep Sinha contested the allegations. “The party’s not fielding Muslims should not be misconstrued. The party has always taken care of them when in power and accommodated them in various boards, corporations and other forums in addition to ensuring benefits of different state and centre-sponsored schemes meant for them.”
In the February 2000 Bihar assembly elections, held 10 months before the creation of Jharkhand, no Muslim candidates had figured on BJP’s list of 168 candidates. The party had won 71 seats of which 32 came to Jharkhand after bifurcation. None from them were Muslim.
The trend continued in 2005 and 2009 assembly elections in which the party had fielded 63 and 67 candidates respectively, but none from the community.
The same holds true for the parliamentary elections. The party had contested all 14 seats in 2004, 12 in 2009 and 14 in 2014 general elections, but none of the candidates were from the Muslim community.